CHICAGO: The fraud and racketeering trial of Lord Conrad Black heard Wednesday from an ex-employee who says she mailed the erstwhile media baron a cheque for $2.6 million (€1.9m; £1.31m) after he signed a contract promising not compete with a company he himself controlled.

The cheque was made out in 2001 to 'Conrad Black' by American Publishing Management Services, a subsidiary of the Hollinger media empire which Black ruled as chairman/ceo.

Former secretary Angela Way testified she was told to send the cheque to Black via the courier service UPS, together with cheques for smaller amounts to his co-accused, John Boultbee and Peter Atkinson.

The trio, plus the company's former counsel Mark Kipnis, are accused of siphoning $60 million from Hollinger International into their own pockets via a series of 'non-compete' fees following the sale of hundreds of local newspaper titles.

The cash was paid in return for pledges not set up rival publications in the same market. The prosecution maintains the money should have gone to Hollinger International shareholders.

The accused quartet denies any wrongdoing and the trial continues.

Data sourced from Sydney Morning Herald; additional content by WARC staff