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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 September, 2004, 16:57 GMT 17:57 UK
Lord Black's life of luxury revealed
Inside Gulfstream jet
The Blacks enjoyed the use of a Gulfstream jet
The 500-page report that media group Hollinger International has filed with US regulators not only blasts former boss Lord Black for removing huge sums of money from the company.

It also lifts the lid on the extraordinarily lavish lifestyle he and his wife, Barbara Amiel Black, enjoyed - paid for, Hollinger alleges, by the company itself.

Lord Black has shrugged off the allegations as "exaggerated claims laced with outright lies" adding that the courts will "exonerate the men and women attacked in the report".

And he says the purchases he made with company money were all signed off by the firm.

Among the items listed as personal expenses claimed by Lord Black and his wife are the lease of a Gulfstream IV jet - at a cost of between $3m and $4m a year to the company between 2000 and 2003.

A further $3,500 went on silverware for the jet, while $90,000 was spent on refurbishing a Rolls Royce used for Lord Black's personal transportation.

According to the report, other luxuries picked up on the corporate expense account include:

  • Handbags for Ms Amiel Black - $2,463
  • Jogging clothing for Ms Amiel Black - $140
  • Exercise equipment - $2,083
  • A T Anthony Ltd leather briefcase - $2,057
  • Stereo equipment for the Blacks New York apartment - $828
  • Opera tickets for the Blacks - $2,785
  • Summer drinks - $24,950

Ms Amiel Black was also awarded a "no show" corporate post that paid $1.1m but "did not require her to do anything", the document alleges.

It adds that she was also "separately compensated" for her services as a writer - as well as Hollinger picking up the tab for office equipment, including the operating cost of a private telecom network.

Apartment deal

And the lavish spending did not stop there.

The report says Lord Black's expense practises "evidence his attitude that there was no need to distinguish what belonged to the Company and what belonged to the Blacks. In Hollinger's world everything belonged to the Blacks".

One "unusual" corporate expense that illustrates the allegation is an apartment "swap" between Hollinger and the Blacks in 2000.

Fendi bag
Luxury handbags were on Mrs Black's shopping list
According to the report, the couple swapped their Upper East Side dwelling for another, greatly superior one in the same block owned by Hollinger.

Under a clause in the deal, the Blacks obtained the property for $2.5m below market price.

Under the agreement, the Blacks apartment - bought for $499,000 two years earlier - benefited by being "priced" 70% higher in line with price appreciation since its purchase two years earlier.

However, the Hollinger apartment was credited with zero appreciation, the report claims. It was originally bought for $3m in 1994.

According to the report, after moving into their new, bigger residence, the Blacks continued to use their old home to house domestic staff, personal friends and "on occasion visiting executives for corporate purposes".

Birthday party

The report also says that Hollinger spent a whopping $42,870 on a 'Happy Birthday Barbara' party at a New York restaurant.

Among the 80 guests who attended the event at La Grenouille in New York were designer Oscar de la Renta, journalist Barbara Walters and Ron Perelman - one of the richest men in America.

Guests were treated to a $212 per plate meal which included Beluga caviar, lobster ceviche and 69 bottles of fine wine.

However, the report does concede that Lord Black paid an additional $20,000 towards the cost of the evening.




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