Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 12 July 2014

Mogul's prosecutors 'face battle'

Prosecutors could have a hard time if they have to prove their case against former media mogul Conrad Black, legal experts say

Prosecutors could have a hard time if they have to prove their case against former media mogul Conrad Black after he leaves prison on bail pending an appeal of his conviction for defrauding investors, legal experts have said.

Former Daily Telegraph boss Black, 65, could be freed from a Florida prison as soon as later today after US District Judge Amy St Eve holds a hearing in Chicago to determine the conditions of his release.

The peer and former head of the Hollinger International media empire is more than two years into a six and a half-year sentence for defrauding investors out of millions of dollars and obstruction of justice.

But on Monday the 7th Circuit US Court of Appeals granted Black's motion for bail. The decision came weeks after the US Supreme Court weakened the "honest services" law that was central to Black's fraud conviction and kicked his case back to a lower court.

The justices left it up to the lower court to decide whether the conviction should be overturned. That decision has not yet been made.

Black was convicted in 2007 along with three other former Hollinger International executives of swindling the media empire's shareholders out of £4 million. He was acquitted of nine other charges.

He was also convicted of obstruction of justice after jurors saw a video of him carrying boxes of documents sought by government investigators out of his offices, loading them into his car and driving off with them. The high court's ruling did not affect the obstruction of justice count.

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