Conrad Black’s woes deepened again last night when a Canadian judge ordered an inquiry into Hollinger Inc, the Toronto-listed company through which the press baron controls his newspaper empire.
Hollinger Inc said the Ontario superior court had ordered the inquiry at the request of one of the company’s shareholders, Catalyst Fund General Partner. The judge, Colin Campbell, said he would publish the reasons for his decision before September 15.
The ruling comes just three days after the publication of a scathing internal report into Hollinger International, the business that until recently owned the Telegraph titles.
The internal inquiry claimed Lord Black and associates had looted Hollinger International of $400m (£220m) to feed a “ravenous appetite for cash”. US authorities are also said to be investigating the finances of Hollinger International and allegations made against Lord Black. Hollinger International has sued Lord Black and others for $1.25bn. Lord Black has repeatedly denied all allegations made against him.
Catalyst, a Toronto investment firm, asked the court to investigate millions of dollars paid to Lord Black in 2001 which it believes should have gone to Hollinger International. It complained in a hearing last month that Hollinger Inc failed to investigate what had happened to the payment.
Hollinger Inc said it would consider its options in the light of the latest inquiry once the Canadian court had issued its reasons for the ruling. Its principal asset is a 68% voting and 18.2% equity stake in Hollinger International.
Another of Lord Black’s firms, Argus, said last night it would miss the latest date for filing its third-.