US & Canada

Conrad Black is granted bail pending appeal

Conrad Black (2006)
Image caption Conrad Black once ran one of the largest newspaper groups in the world

A US appeals court has granted bail to the media tycoon Conrad Black pending an appeal against his fraud conviction.

The British peer has served more than two years of a 78-month sentence. His bail conditions are to be determined by a district court judge in Chicago.

He and three other former executives of Hollinger International were found to have stolen $6.1m from shareholders.

The Supreme Court ruled last month that their convictions partly relied on a law that was too broad in its scope.

Federal prosecutors had applied part of the federal mail and wire fraud statute, which allows for the conviction of business leaders if they are found to have deprived people of "the intangible right of honest services".

But the Supreme Court ruled that the law should only be applied to incidents of bribery and kickback schemes, and left it up to a lower court to decide whether the conviction should be overturned.

Videotape

According to Monday's ruling by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the terms of Black's bail will be determined by Judge Amy St Eve of the District Court in Chicago, who oversaw his original trial.

It is unclear when Black might be released, and the Bureau of Prisons has said he is still being held at a low-security prison in Florida.

Before the Supreme Court ruling, prosecutors had said Black should remain in jail because it would not affect the obstruction of justice conviction.

Together with his business associates, Black was convicted of defrauding the shareholders of Hollinger International, of which he was chairman.

They were found to have paid themselves tax-free bonuses from the sale of newspaper assets without the approval of the company's board.

In addition, Black was convicted on one count of obstructing justice, after being recorded on videotape removing documents from his office in Toronto after US regulators had informed him he was under investigation.

He has vigorously protested his innocence from the beginning.

Under Black's leadership, Hollinger became one of the largest media companies in the world, acquiring the Chicago Sun-Times, the UK's Daily Telegraph, the Jerusalem Post and hundreds of community papers in the US and Canada.

The 65-year-old was born in Montreal, Canada, but renounced his citizenship in 2001 so he could become a member of the House of Lords.

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