Donald Trump pardons former media mogul Conrad Black, convicted of fraud in 2007

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US President Donald Trump has signed a full pardon for former media mogul Conrad Black, who was convicted in 2007 of fraud and obstruction of justice and spent three-and-a-half years in prison.

Key points:

  • Conrad Black owned newspapers across North America, the UK and in Israel
  • Two of his three fraud convictions were later voided and he was released from prison in 2012
  • In an op-ed, Lord Black said Mr Trump told him he was granting clemency because it was an “unjust verdict”

Lord Black, 74, a Canadian-born British citizen, once ran an international newspaper empire that included the Chicago Sun-Times, Britain’s Daily Telegraph and the Jerusalem Post.

He was found guilty in the United States of scheming to siphon off millions of dollars from the sale of newspapers owned by Hollinger Inc, where he was chief executive and chairman.

Two of his three fraud convictions were later voided, and his sentence was shortened. He was released from a Florida prison in May 2012 and deported from the United States.

In 2013, the US Securities and Exchange Commission banned him from acting as a director of a US company and ordered him to pay $4.1 million in restitution.

Some of the people Trump has pardoned:

  • Michael Behenna — US soldier convicted of killing Iraqi prisoner
  • Dinesh D’Souza — Conservative commentator convicted of campaign finance violations
  • Jack Johnson (posthumously) —Former boxing champion convicted by an all-white jury for travelling with his white girlfriend
  • Sheriff Joe Arpaio — Arizona lawman convicted of criminal contempt in a case involving racial profiling

Canada’s Ontario Securities Commission also ruled in 2015 that Lord Black could no longer hold executive positions at listed companies or investment funds.

A statement from the White House said the case “attracted broad support from many high-profile individuals who have vigorously vouched for his exceptional character”.

The statement said Lord Black had made “tremendous contributions to business”, had written books on history and served as a tutor while in prison.

“In light of these facts, Mr Black is entirely deserving of this Grant of Executive Clemency,” the White House said.

The office of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declined to comment.

Black says Trump offered to give evidence for him at 2007 trial

Lord Black, who has called Mr Trump a friend, published a book last year praising him, titled Donald J Trump: A President Like No Other.

He also penned and op-ed for Canada’s National Post, a newspaper he founded in the 1990s, in response to the pardon.

A close-up of Conrad Black as he walks out of court.

He said he initially thought he was being pranked when he was told he had a call from the White House, but he picked and heard Mr Trump ask: “Is that the great Lord Black?”

“I said ‘Mr President, you do me great honour telephoning me’,” Lord Black wrote.

“He could not have been more gracious and quickly got to his point: he was granting me a full pardon that would ‘expunge the bad rap you got’.

“He had followed the case closely and offered to come to give evidence at my trial in Chicago in 2007 on one of the counts (I was acquitted of that one). He said that there would be some controversy, ‘but you can handle that better than anyone’.”

Lord Black wrote that Mr Trump told him he was granting clemency because his conviction was an “unjust verdict”.

He said the President told him “we’ve known each other a long time, but that wasn’t any part of the reason, nor has (sic) any of the supportive things you’ve said and written about me”.