TORONTO – The Ontario Securities Commission has reached a settlement with former Holinger executive Peter Atkinson over so-called “non-compete” payments and has set a hearing for Monday to determine whether the agreement can be finalized.
The OSC announced the settlement with Atkinson on Thursday, but did not disclose any of its details.
The securities regulator says the Sept. 23 hearing will seek to determine whether it is in the public interest to approve the settlement.
The OSC alleges directors and officers of Hollinger Inc. and Hollinger International engaged in “a scheme” to line their pockets with company proceeds through a complicated system of “non-competition” payments.
The case deals with many of the same issues covered by U.S. court and regulatory decisions — allegations that former Hollinger CEO Conrad Black has fought vigorously and some of which he succeeded in getting overturned.
Black, Atkinson and another former executive, John Boultbee, were found guilty of three counts of fraud each by a U.S. jury in 2007, and Black was also convicted of one count of obstruction of justice, but two of the three fraud convictions against the men were overturned on appeal.
Black ended up serving 37 months out of a 42-month sentence in a Florida prison and was fined $125,000.
Boultbee was sentenced to time served, fined $500 and ordered to pay $15,000 in restitution to the Sun-Times Media Group. Atkinson was given time served and fined $3,000.
In June, Atkinson was also asked to pay back $10,000 in legal costs as part of a Law Society of Upper Canada decision that found he’d engaged in conduct unbecoming for a barrister and solicitor in relation to the fraud convictions.
The Law Society had suspended Atkinson for two years as of Aug. 30, 2008, and opted in its ruling to limit the scope of his practice for another two years.
The OSC said in July it would move ahead with its own proceedings to determine whether the three men should be banned from buying or trading in securities and from becoming directors of public companies in Ontario.
Most of the OSC’s original allegations against Hollinger and its senior executives and officers, filed in March 2005, were removed in a revised version issued July 12, which replaced pages of allegations from the OSC staff with a summary of U.S. proceedings against Black and two of his former senior executives.
A confidential hearing is set for Oct. 21 in the case, although Black’s lawyer has said he’s considering a request to have the proceedings stayed, arguing the case was “entirely unnecessary” because a similar one involving Black has already been dealt with in the United States.
Black and the U.S. Securities Commission settled a long-standing case earlier this summer, with Black agreeing to pay a reduced penalty of US$4.1 million in restitution and to abide by limitations on his business activities.