CHICAGO: Disgraced press tycoon Lord Conrad Black has been accused of backdating stock option awards, the current crime a la mode among the Lords of the Universe.

Pointing the finger is Sun-Times Media Group, Black's former fiefdom in the halcyon days when the Chicago-headquartered publishing company was known as Hollinger International and allegedly looted by its senior executives.

On Friday Sun-Times said some stock grants between 1999-2002 were "backdated", causing it to restate historical financial results, although the amounts involved were "quantitatively immaterial".

Filings with the SEC have revealed that option grants to Black - then Hollinger's chairman/ceo - and other executives were commonly dated at low points in the company's stock price.

His Lordship was charged last year by US federal prosecutors with fraud and racketeering [WARC News: 18-Nov-05]. He and a trio of former Hollinger executives will face trial in Chicago this month. All deny wrongdoing.

Neither Black nor his lawyers were available to make a statement on the alleged backdatings.

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