Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Black now with the jury

For what it's worth, I agree with Steve Skurka's prediction that Conrad Black is likely to be found innocent by the jury in his Chicago trial. For this reason:
Mr. Skurka said prosecutors have failed to prove that fraud took place at Hollinger International Inc., because so many documents have been introduced to the jury that outlined details of the alleged illegal non-compete payments.
The Globe and Mail

"This is a fraud case replete with disclosure," he said. "The essence of fraud is concealment and this is the antithesis of that."

Defence lawyers have done a good job of showing that the payments were not only legal, but approved by directors and reviewed by outside lawyers and auditors, he added.
The prosecution's final rebuttal today, by Eric Sussman, focusing on the non-compete payments seemed weak:
"The important question to ask is 'the why' of these payments, not whether they were or weren't disclosed," Sussman said of the millions of dollars in non-competition payments that the government claims Black and the others stole.

"Mr. Black is saying the 'why' is because the buyers demanded it," he said. "The buyers requested it. It's the company's money. That's what they are taking."

The non-compete payments flowed from the sale of hundreds of newspapers and other media properties that Black's one-time publishing empire, Hollinger International Inc., began selling in 2000 to pay off bank debt.

Buyers make such payments to insure that sellers -- in this case Black and his associates -- will not reenter a media market with a new rival publication once they have left it.
Seems to me it's a bit late to be asking about the "why"...but this should be fascinating...