America's Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday filed civil fraud charges against former Hollinger International [H-Inc] officers Lord Conrad Black and his lieutenant David Radler, alleging fraudulent diversion into their own pockets of at least $85 million (€65.67m; £43.99m).

The duo, says the SEC, structured sales of Hollinger's newspapers for their benefit at the expense of other shareholders. The regulatory body seeks repayment of these monies plus unspecified civil penalties and a ban on their serving as officers or directors of public companies.

The SEC also requested the creation of a voting trust to control Lord Black's stake in Hollinger.

Accuses Stephen M Cutler, director of the SEC's enforcement division: "Black and Radler abused their control of a public company and treated it as their personal piggy bank.

"Instead of carrying out their responsibilities to protect the interest of public shareholders, the defendants cheated and defrauded these shareholders through a series of deceptive schemes and misstatements."

His Lordship roared defiance, clinging King Kong-like to the top of the Empire State Building while clutching a screaming Radler in a blonde wig: "We fully expect to be vindicated in this fight ... the shareholders of Hollinger International are beneficiaries of enormous value that Conrad Black, David Radler and their team brought," blasted a statement.

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