Four years in a Florida federal prison seems to have changed Conrad Black.

The media mogul who once owned the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph, Israel’s Jerusalem Post and Canada’s National Post is generally considered an icon of conservatism, but in a recent editorial meeting with The Huffington Post Canada, he sounded at times like an Occupy Wall Street protester, declaring the financial crisis of 2008 to be “shocking” and the LIBOR scandal “seriously disturbing.”

Then again, the former owner of media company Hollinger also sounded like a pro-business libertarian at times, suggesting that white-collar criminals -- of which he fervently denies he is one -- should do little to no jail time, and would better serve society by being put to work.

Black said he was dumbfounded by the revelations about subprime mortgage lending that emerged after the 2008 financial crisis, which resulted in a $700-billion bailout of major U.S. banks by the federal government.

“I never imagined they would certify (these subprime mortgages) as investment grade,” he said, referring to the practice by some credit ratings agencies of certifying securitized mortgages as AAA debt, the best rating there is, despite evidence that many investment banks knew they were worthless.

He described the LIBOR scandal -- in which bankers are alleged to have manipulated a key interest rate -- as a “very disturbing encumbrance” on the reputation of the banking sector.

But asked if he thought dishonest bankers and financial advisors should be facing jail time, Conrad suggested white collar criminals don’t belong there.

“I don’t think throwing people in jail is the answer,” he said.

Black described convicted Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff’s 150-year prison sentence as “nonsense.” He suggested that “maybe a little jail time” would have been appropriate, but “the best you could do … is to get them to work.”

“Everybody makes mistakes,” he said.

Black was sentenced to six-and-half years in prison by a U.S. federal court in 2007 on three counts of fraud and one count of obstruction of justice stemming from his time as head of Hollinger.

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Jul 26, 2012 | Conrad Black speaks to HuffPost Canada about Bernie Madoff's 'nonsense' prison sentence (Ed board meeting) by HuffPostCanada on Keek.com


The U.S. Supreme Court tossed out two of his fraud convictions, and Black ended up spending some four years behind bars.

He was released from prison this spring, returning to his native Canada. But because he renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2001, he is in the country on a temporary visa.

In interviews with The Huffington Post Canada, Black criticized the growing practice of prison privatization, called former U.S. President George W. Bush a “bonehead,” and suggested he may be interested in once again becoming a media mogul.

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  • <a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/982423--conrad-black-sells-florida-mansion-for-23m" target="_hplink">Conrad Black sold his Palm Beach, Florida mansion for $23.1 million</a> (U.S.) while on trial for fraud and obstruction of justice in 2001.



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  • Lord Black of Crossharbour, aka Conrad Black, was HuffPost Canada's guest at its most recent editorial lunch on Thursday.

  • Black, who returned to Canada on May 4 after serving nearly four years in prison candidly answered questions on a range of topics, from his personal experiences in prison to his determination to fight to keep his Order of Canada, from his recent libel lawsuit against Random House to his future plans.

  • Black appeared unruffled by the subjects raised by the HuffPost editorial team; throughout the luncheon he discussed his recent travails, and at times became impassioned in his answers -- about the need for prison reform, about those who have sought to defame his reputation, and about the future of politics and political discourse in Western democracies.

  • At the end of the luncheon, when asked what he thinks is the public's greatest misperception of him, Black replied that it was the belief that he was "pompous."

  • A word cloud illustrating some of the more interesting vocabulary deployed by Black during the editorial board meeting.

  • Conrad Black On The Privatization Of Prisons

    Toronto, Ont. -- Conrad Black, former media baron and a recipient of the Order Of Canada dropped by for lunch with Huffington Post Canada's editorial board. There he spoke with Daniel Tencer on the negative effects of private prisons