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US prosecutors disclosed time they had launched a criminal probe against media tycoon Conrad Black, who is already besieged by several lawsuits and regulatory probes.

US prosecutors disclosed time they had launched a criminal probe against media tycoon Conrad Black, who is already besieged by several lawsuits and regulatory probes.

Federal prosecutors are investigating Black for allegedly diverting funds from his media empire, Randall Samborn, spokesman for the US Attorney’s office in Chicago, told AFP.

Samborn said the prosecutor’s office filed a motion to intervene in the civil fraud case filed last year by the Securities and Exchange Commission which accuses Black and associate David Radler of bilking the empire.

A motion filed this week in US District Court in Chicago requests that prosecutors be allowed access to unspecified documents in the SEC case.

The court filing asks Judge William Hart “to protect the substantial public interests at stake in a related and overlapping criminal investigation” of Black.

Prosecutors requested an “in camera,” or private hearing with the judge and a stay, or freeze in proceedings, to discuss the need for a specific document sought in the criminal probe.

Black’s holding company Hollinger Inc. earlier said quoting the motion that the suit seeks to establish whether the tycoon, Radler and others “‘fraudulently diverted corporate assets and opportunities owned by Hollinger International to themselves and to companies they controlled.'”

The firm had asked for and received two weeks to respond to the government motion, Samborn said.

The criminal probe targets Black, and his former deputy, Radler in relation to their dealings with US media group Hollinger International which ousted Black as chairman last year.

A US judge last week removed obstacles to Chicago-based Hollinger International’s own suit against Black, which claims 425 million dollars in damages over alleged looting while he was chief executive.

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.

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