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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 August 2006, 19:53 GMT 20:53 UK
Judge increases Lord Black's bail
Lord Conrad Black
If convicted, Lord Black could face a long jail term
A US judge has increased media tycoon Lord Conrad Black's bail bond by $1m (528,000) to $21m.

The move resolves a dispute over Lord Black's finances, amid claims of discrepancies in the declared health of his wealth.

Lord Black is set to go on trial in the US next year to face charges of fraud and racketeering.

Lord Black, 61, denies allegations he helped divert almost $84m (49m) from media group Hollinger International.

The company owns the Chicago Sun-Times and other newspapers, and used to own the Telegraph Group in the UK.

When charged last year, Lord Black put forward his mansion in Palm Beach in Florida to cover part of his bond.

Accounts row

The recent row over his finances was sparked last month, when federal judge Amy St Eve asked for an explanation of why his accounts showed stock and bank accounts of more value than he declared in 2005.

She asked how the former media baron paid his $200,000 monthly expenses without any seeming income.

The inquiry followed demands from prosecutors that Lord Black's bond be raised as they claimed he had lied about his finances.

On Wednesday, Lord Black's lawyers filed a sharply-worded brief to the court, criticising federal prosecutors for their "shameful" conduct in asking for his bond to be increased.

It also dubbed claims that his finances had been mis-stated as "histrionic" and "inaccurate".

His lawyer, Ed Genson, has previously explained that Lord Black had been given large amounts of money in settlement of an unnamed dispute over legal fees, as well as borrowing $2m from his wife.

Mr Genson also said that Lord Black, who is currently free on bail, would be unlikely to flee the country as he is a "highly visible figure both here and abroad".

Lord Black led Hollinger International, now named Sun-Times Media Group, for eight years before being forced out as CEO in November 2003.

He faces 12 charges of racketeering, money laundering, wire fraud and obstruction of justice.

The racketeering charge alleges that Lord Black oversaw a number of newspaper sales which enriched him and other Hollinger executives.




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