The US government has seized almost $9m from Conrad Black, the embattled media tycoon, alleging that the proceeds of his sale of an elegant New York apartment were the result of a fraudulent scheme.
FBI agents swooped on Friday night as the $10.5m sale of the Park Avenue property was completed. They seized $7.9m. Earlier in the day US government officials had seized $1.02m which was held in a separate bank account as part of the sale.
Lord Black, the former chief executive and chairman of Hollinger International, which until last year controlled The Telegraph Group, owner of The Sunday Telegraph, is not thought to have been present at the closing of the sale.
The seizure of the funds, authorised by a judge in Chicago, is the first action taken by the US authorities against Black. US officials said that Black had not been charged with a criminal offence, but refused to comment on whether any charges would be bought.
According to court documents released on Friday, prosecutors allege that in 1994 American Publishing Services, a subsidiary of Hollinger, bought the spacious apartment for $3m. Black and his wife Barbara Amiel were allowed to use the property and the media tycoon was granted an option to buy the apartment later at a fair market value.