F David Radler, former president and chief operating officer of Lord Conrad Black's Hollinger International [H-Intl], has entered into a plea bargain deal with US federal prosecutors.

Radler's readiness to cooperate was spurred by prospects of a five year prison sentence if he declined to plead guilty to mail-fraud charges and tell all. Instead he will now serve a 29-month term in jail and pay a relatively modest $250,000 (€205,305; £138,534) fine.

The plea bargain agreement reveals that the frauds in question relate to H-Intl's disposals of its small US community newspapers and subsequent payments received under the guise of 'non-compete' payments set up by Radler.

These conformed to a "template" which, says Radler, was approved by "the chairman." The duo did not seek approval of these payments by the H-Intl board. This assertion is in direct conflict with "the chairman's" repeated claim that these (and other handouts) were sanctioned by the board.

The plea agreement entered in US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, states that the two men schemed with others from 1999 until 2001 to cheat shareholders of $32 million.

Lord Black, a former Canadian national who renounced his citizenship in order to accept a British peerage, is not mentioned by name in the plea-bargain agreement. Instead it refers to H-Intl's "chairman and chief executive officer" - dual roles held by Black until 2003.

Says the agreement: "Radler, the chairman and others repeatedly abused their authority and fiduciary obligations as managers of [H-Intl] in order to fraudulently benefit themselves at the expense of [the company] and its public shareholders."

There is no truth in the rumor that the US justice system is seeking guidance from The Emily Post Institute on the correct forms of address for a British Lord.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff