PEJ News - C. L. Cook - The days are darkening for Lord Black. The erstwhile Press baron and media tycoon now mired in legal battles watched this week as his "right-hand man" for so many years, David Radler copped a plea with U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Patrick Fitzgerald to drop most of the seven charges against him in return for "cooperation" in Fitzgerald's ongoing investigation of Black's former domain, Hollinger Inc.
Ratting-Out the Black Lord
C. L. Cook
September 22, 2005
Conrad's descent to earth can be traced to the CanWest Global takeover of much of "his" publishing empire. The current board of Hollinger charges Black and accomplices looted the company to provide themselves fabulous lifestyles, at the expense of the company and shareholders.
It began at a routine Annual shareholders meeting when a curious stockholder began asking questions about just where and why vast sums were being diverted, through convoluted contracts involving myriad companies controlled by Lord Black. Those queries set in motion a train of events that have led to multiple charges of mail fraud filed against various individuals and entities connected to Black by U.S. authorities, and sparked investigations by the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) in that country. There are also official investigations of Hollinger and Black's doings with company finances underway in his native Canada.
Today, (S22) Hollinger legal eagle, and key component of the alleged illegalities, Mark Kipnis was scheduled for the next phase in his trial. He pleaded not guilty last month to the same charges cited against Radler. What the former Hollinger in-house lawyer's strategy will be, in light of Radler's plea bargain and promise to provide insight to the prosecution, is the next chapter in a legal saga that is now inching closer to climax: the laying of charges against Conrad Black himself.
Though no charges have yet been laid against Black, Ravelston Corp, one of the offshore companies he controlled has been specifically charged in the massive fraud that saw hundreds of millions of dollars siphoned from Hollinger prior to Black's emasculation by the board. There are seven mail fraud charges to answer for, and the questions are getting closer to the former business leader.
For now, authorities in both Canada and the U.S. are keeping mum, but Patrick Fitzgerald, the same conducting the Karl Rove/Valerie Plame case, seems for now determined to carry this forward to a place that must see Conrad Black brought before the courts. For many familiar with Mr. Black's amazing career in Canada, his humbling will likely be a satisfaction; his imperious snobbery and arrogance has rankled for years, but it will also prove another opportunity to see justice done, despite the prominence of the defendant.
It's unlikely Conrad will emerge from prison some time in the future to host his own reality show, but already there is talk of a bio-pic in the works.
Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. He also serves as a contributing editor to PEJ News. You can check out the GR Blog here.