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SEC bars Conrad Black from U.S. directorships

Former media mogul Conrad Black arrives at a business luncheon where he will be making a speech in Toronto, June 22, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Blin
Former media mogul Conrad Black arrives at a business luncheon where he will be making a speech in Toronto, June 22, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Blin

By Andrea Hopkins

(Reuters) - The U.S. securities regulator on Thursday banned former press baron Conrad Black from acting as a director of a U.S. company and said he must pay $4.1 million in restitution in a settlement that ends a long-standing lawsuit over Black's dealings as the head of the Hollinger media empire.

In its heyday, Hollinger International operated a raft of newspapers that included the Chicago Sun-Times, the Jerusalem Post, Britain's Daily Telegraph and the National Post in Black's native Canada. Black, 68, gave up Canadian citizenship when he became a member of Britain's House of Lords.

The final judgment by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission followed Black's appeal of an October 2012 SEC judgment that ordered him to pay $6.1 million. He was released from U.S. prison more than a year ago after serving a sentence for fraud and obstruction of justice.

The $4.1 million will be paid to Chicago Newspaper Liquidation Corp, formerly known as the Sun-Times Media Group, which was a Hollinger successor company in the United States.

Black was found guilty in 2007 of scheming with partner David Radler and other executives to siphon off millions of dollars from the sale of newspapers as they unwound Hollinger International.

But two of his three fraud convictions were later voided and his 78-month sentence was shortened to 42 months. He served 37 months, was released in May 2012 and now lives in Toronto.

"In the circumstances, and given the correlation of forces and the defamation I endured, it is a very happy ending," Black said in an email, noting that a libel suit related to the affair had ended in a settlement. "The collapse of the onslaught against me speaks for itself."

The SEC deal clears the way for the Ontario Securities Commission, Canada's major securities regulator, to proceed with its own case against Black and two other former Hollinger executives.

In a hearing scheduled to begin on Friday, the regulator wants to ban Black from buying or trading in securities and from becoming a director of a public company in Ontario.

Black described the OSC action as a "technical matter."

"I am not aware of any monetary claim, or of any ground for one," he said.

(Additional reporting by Janet Guttsman in Toronto; Editing by Peter Galloway and Lisa Shumaker)

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