Conrad Black’s hearing before the country’s top stock market regulator got off to a complicated start on Monday.
The Ontario Securities Commission is looking to permanently ban Black, founder and former head of Hollinger Inc and Hollinger International, from Canadian capital markets.
The OSC hearing began with motions over what evidence will be called before the panel and whether allegations against co-respondent John Boultbee, former Hollinger executive, should be heard separately.
Black, a former newspaper baron who was convicted of one count of fraud in the U.S., has been excluded from Canada’s capital markets as a result of voluntary undertakings that have been in place for years.
Counsel for the OSC argues that Black’s fraud conviction should be the basis of a permanent Canadian ban.
Black, dressed in a dark suit with a red tie, sat next to one of his lawyers, writing on a notepad as lawyers spoke.
Black’s lawyers are arguing for a hearing that would include evidence from Black and other witnesses, in part, on corporate governance, and non-compete payments at Hollinger.
Black’s lawyer, Peter Howard, said the OSC needs to hear from Black as to his “present situation, his approach to capital markets, his plans for the future, if any,” Howard said. “You’re going to react to him in the witness box.”
Prosecutors warned the panel that Black is looking to re-litigate the Hollinger matter.
“Mr. Black wants a do-over. He had a chance to tell his story. A jury and three different courts rejected that story,” OSC counsel Jed Friedman told the panel.
“He was convicted of fraud. There are no do-overs here.”
Black intends to testify that he did not have any criminal intent, the OSC told the panel.
He also intends to testify on corporate governance and compensation.
“Mr. Black can’t talk about corporate governance in order to blame it on the lawyers, the directors, Mr. Boultbee, or bad paperwork,” Friedman said.
The OSC allegations, first filed in 2005, were set on pause as the Hollinger matter ground through the U.S. criminal courts and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Black was convicted of one count of fraud and obstruction of justice in the U.S. He served 37 months in a Florida prison.
He has also been permanently barred by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission from serving as a director or officer in the U.S.
Boultbee was convicted of one count of fraud in the U.S. in connection with $15,000 of so-called “non-compete” payments.
Boultbee, who lives in Victoria, B.C., took part in the hearing by phone.
During a break in the proceedings, Black did not comment on the OSC matter. Asked by reporters for his opinion on the deal announced Monday that would see Postmedia buy Sun Media’s English language papers, Black said, “I’d like to see how (Postmedia CEO Paul) Godfrey is going to pay for it.”
The hearing before commissioners Christopher Portner and Judith Robertson is slated to continue on Wednesday.