President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed a full pardon for former media mogul Conrad Black, who was convicted in 2007 of fraud and obstruction of justice and spent 3-1/2 years in prison.
Black, 74, a Canadian-born British citizen, once ran an international newspaper empire that included the Chicago Sun-Times, Britain’s Daily Telegraph and the Jerusalem Post.
“Lord Black’s case has attracted broad support from many high-profile individuals who have vigorously vouched for his exceptional character,” the White House said in a statement announcing the pardon.
It said Black had made “tremendous contributions to business,” had written books on history and served as a tutor while in prison.
“In light of these facts, Mr. Black is entirely deserving of this Grant of Executive Clemency,” the White House said.
Black said Trump had called him to say that he would be granted a full pardon, that his conviction was “unjust” and that he “should never been charged”.
“The idea that I would commit a crime is a nonsense,” Black told the BBC. He said that he was now “rebuilding my fortune, life goes on, this is a great occasion”.
The office of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declined to comment.
Black, who has called Trump a friend, published a book last year praising him, titled “Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other.”
Black was found guilty in the United States in 2007 of scheming to siphon off millions of dollars from the sale of newspapers owned by Hollinger Inc, where he was chief executive and chairman.
Two of his three fraud convictions were later voided, and his sentence was shortened. He was released from a Florida prison in May 2012 and deported from the United States.
In 2013, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission banned Black from acting as a director of a U.S. company and ordered him to pay $4.1 million in restitution.
Canada’s Ontario Securities Commission ruled in 2015 that Black could no longer hold executive positions at listed companies or investment funds.
(Reporting by Eric Beech; Additional reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Sandra Maler and Peter Cooney)