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Justice slaps cable's Darth Vader with $1.4 million fine

June 23, 2009 |  3:35 pm

Media mogul John Malone, once coined Darth Vader by Al Gore, had to cough up $1.4 million to the Justice Department to settle charges that he illegally bought stock in Discovery Holding Co. between August 2005 and June 2008.

MALONEMalone bought the shares after his Liberty Media Corp. spun off its stake of cable programming giant Discovery Communications into a public company (i.e. Discovery Holding Co.) in 2005. However, he did not comply with the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act, which requires a notification and waiting period for individuals and companies buying stock or assets above a certain value. In other words, he forgot to tell the Securities and Exchange Commission what he was doing.

Interestingly, Malone himself caught the error on June 12 of 2008 and made a corrective filing to the SEC and would probably have paid a much smaller penalty. But then on June 14 he violated the act again and that raised the fine. Malone's settlement must be approved by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: John Malone. Credit: EPA/Andrew Gombert