Conrad Black’s long-running legal battle isn’t over.
That’s because the OSC intends to seek an agreement that will bar Black from trading in Canadian securities. It held a pre-hearing about the allegations against Black and his former Hollinger colleagues in Toronto this morning.
During those proceedings, Black’s lawyers claimed another hearing (over allegations dating back to 2005) would be a waste of time and resources, reports The Financial Post. It added the lawyers also said the agreement would be unnecessary since Black already agreed to similar provisions in “previous undertakings.”
Nonetheless, the next OSC hearing has been scheduled for October 21, 2013.
The OSC shares jurisdiction over the Hollinger newspaper business that Black once controlled, and had started building a case against him in March 2005 on allegations he acted against the public interest while head of that media group.
However, the regulator adjourned proceedings in October 2009 pending the outcome of appeals in the related U.S. criminal case. Now, the regulator can once again move forward; it held a pre-hearing this morning in Toronto, which Black didn’t attend.
But reports say most of the OSC’s original allegations against Hollinger and its senior executives and officers, filed in a 2005 notice, were removed in a revised notice issued on July 12, 2013.
The revised OSC statement focuses on a summary of the U.S. proceedings against Black and two of his former senior executives, Peter Atkinson and John (Jack) Boultbee. However, the OSC enforcement staff reserved the right to bring forward further allegations.
The statement says the facts set out in the U.S. case authorize the OSC to “make an order against each of the respondents pursuant to section 127(10) of the Act. [Also], each of the respondents acted in a manner contrary to the public interest, and an order is warranted pursuant to section 127(1) of the [Ontario Securities] Act.”
So, the provincial tribunal is deciding whether the respondents have acted in a manner “contrary to the public interest” as defined by the Act. The OSC alleges directors and officers of Hollinger engaged in a scheme to line their pockets through their activities at the company.
James Morton, a Toronto lawyer who has followed Black’s case, expected Black’s lawyers would argue American authorities have already covered the matters before the OSC. But of the many criminal charges leveled against him by the U.S. Justice Department, a jury convicted him of only four after a lengthy trial in Chicago. Eventually, only two of those convictions survived years of appeals (one count of fraud and one count of obstruction of justice).
Morton has also suggested the OSC wants to make an example of Black to showcase it’s just as tough as U.S. regulators.
Black served 37 months out of a 42-month sentence in a Florida prison, and was fined US$125,000.