in

Media tycoon Conrad Black has lost control of the companies he is accused of “looting” to fund his lavish lifestyle. Now financial regulators are hounding him — along with the FBI. Regulators are now awaiting an internal company audit of Black’s conduct before deciding what action to take against him. It is, said sources, damning, and paints Black as a man with the “morals of a shark”. Jail is a possibility, and the couple who coveted greatness with a billionaire lifestyle and soaring egos may end up broken, and broke, by their lavish expectations.

They are calling it “Conradenfreude” in Canada. One of the world’s most prominent tycoons, a big, bruising businessman, explodes out of mediocrity in Ontario, builds an international media empire, courts presidents and statesmen, then suddenly finds himself overtaken by financial scandal and orphaned by his newly acquired family of the super-rich and powerful. Few are offering him a shoulder to cry on. In fact, most seem to be relishing his comeuppance.

Intelligent, belligerent and pompous, Conrad Black built a media business spanning three continents. He saved the Telegraph group from collapse, and was given a peerage for his achievements. He acquired a glamorous second wife in the writer Barbara Amiel, and together they bulldozed their way onto the social and political stages of London and Washington. He acquired political figures such as Henry Kissinger and Margaret Thatcher as confidants, advisers and employees. But with a stew of alleged financial irregularities coming to the boil, and the bouquet of a Maxwellian disregard for the rules, Black and his wife are fighting for their reputations.

Sued by his former company Hollinger in Delaware in February, Black lost control of his newspaper company and his reputation was further tarnished in testimony. The judge deemed him “evasive and unreliable”. Writs worth hundreds of millions of dollars are flying; two more writs were served on him as he dined with his lawyers and another as he headed for the court’s toilets.

Worse is to come.

British MP George Galloway and his opponent the Daily Telegraph will leave no stone unturned to sort out what could be a spectacular libel case.

One of the authors claiming Dan Brown’s bestseller The Da Vinci Code copied his ideas has admitted he exaggerated his case in an interview with a journalist.