Black claims Hollinger stopped him repaying money

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The Independent Online

Lord Black of Crossharbour has opened up yet another legal front in his battle with Hollinger International, insisting he is trying to repay money to the company but that he is being prevented from doing so.

Lord Black of Crossharbour has opened up yet another legal front in his battle with Hollinger International, insisting he is trying to repay money to the company but that he is being prevented from doing so.

The Tory Peer wrote on Tuesday to the judge, Leo Strine, who presided over a court battle earlier this year between Lord Black and Hollinger International, the newspaper group that he used to chair. Judge Strine had ordered Lord Black to repay $7.2m, plus interest, to Hollinger International after that case went in the company's favour. He was due to pay the money by 1 June.

Lord Black said in the letter that he sought to repay the money by exercising the stock options he still holds over Hollinger International shares, which are worth more than $10m. However, the company has blocked Lord Black's attempt to exercise his options. He said that, in one attempt, he wired the company $5.5m to exercise the options. Hollinger International hung on to the cash and still did not allow him the shares. The company said Lord Black was an "insider" and such persons were not currently allowed to exercise shares, as the group is yet to file its results.

One source said: "Lord Black believes they are holding property of his worth more than $7.2m, so he's not going to give them more money."

Lord Black also wrote to Hollinger International demanding he be allowed his shares and that anything above the money owed to the company be returned to him. The two letters were the first evidence that Lord Black was attempting to repay the money that the company accuses him of taking from Hollinger International without authorisation.

Separately, Hollinger Inc, a company used by Lord Black to hold his Hollinger International stake, has refused to return the $16m that Hollinger International claims it is owed.

Under an agreement signed in November between Lord Black and Hollinger International, he undertook to repay $7.2m and he also agreed to get Hollinger Inc to give back $16m that was paid to it in "fees" that were similarly never authorised by the board. Hollinger Inc has claimed that it was not party to that November agreement and that up had not signed up to return the money.

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