In a trial which has taken place in America but without any real notice taken by American pundits, rightwing press baron Conrad Black has today been found guilty of one charge of fraud and another of obstructing justice by a jury in Chicago. But Black was found not guilty of a separate charge of racketeering. Ten other charges of fraud totalling in all around $60 million allegedly pilfered from shareholders are still outstanding. The charges:
relate to the UK peer's tenure as chief executive of newspaper publisher Hollinger International.Notice that all of those papers have been strongly supportive of the neocon agenda on Iraq and Iran.
Lord Black is accused of stealing $60m (£29.5m) from Hollinger's shareholders.
Canadian-born Conrad Black, 62, is on trial with three other former Hollinger directors, Jack Boultbee, 64, Peter Atkinson, 60, and Mark Kipnis, 59.
They are accused of stealing the money to fund their opulent lifestyles, which in the case of Lord Black is said to have included gala parties for his wife, a private jet, and a luxury apartment in New York.
...Hollinger International used to own such newspapers as the UK's Daily Telegraph and Israel's Jerusalem Post.
The company sold both titles after the removal of Lord Black, and the name of the company has since been changed to Sun-Times News Group.
Its last remaining large newspaper is the Chicago Sun-Times.
The Jerusalem Post is now owned by that other rightwing media mogul, Rupert Murdoch. The Torygraph, still shilling for the neocons and still rife with Colonel Blimp bigotry, is now owned by twin brothers who live a feudal life in their castle on a private island.
The lawyer for those robbed Hollinger shareholders is also suing some other notable names for their involvement, according to a BBC backgrounder on the affair:
Mr Eisenhofer is also suing some of Hollinger's non-executive board members - celebrities like former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, top diplomat and government official Richard Perle and Lord Black's wife, Barbara Amiel.It will be interesting to see what happens with those lawsuits. In the meantime, on this Friday the 13th justice has caught up with yet another corrupt rightwinger. Black faces nearly 90 years in prison for all the fraud charges.
He says they failed to stop Lord Black stripping the company.
"I don't think they really had any idea of what was going on," says Mr Eisenhofer, "but they should have."
"It's nice to go to the Board meetings, it's nice to cash the cheque. It's nice to get the royal treatment. But it comes with some responsibilities, and when you don't exercise those responsibilities, your shareholders are now going to hold you accountable," says Mr Eisenhofer.
Next stop Murdoch? Maybe. Investigations into his business practises are underway in the UK already. You never know what can come out of such rattling around in closets, as Black can now attest.
Update Bloomberg has more. Black was convicted of three fraud charges and obstruction of justice and U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald says Black is now looking at 15-20. Roger Ailes (NOT the Fox one) points out that two of Black's staunch defenders who will be shedding tears over the conviction of their patron are Mark Steyn and David Frum. That's just fine with me.
Update 2 The London Times, owned by that other rightwing media mogul Rupert Murdoch, is positively gloating over how the mighty Lord Black has fallen. Their correspondent points out that, as a non-US citizen, Black won't get a "Club Fed" prison, but instead be placed in the general prison population.
Lord Black of Crossharbour could now spend years in a cell smaller than one of his wife’s celebrated wardrobes.
The former Telegraph chairman once flitted by corporate G4 jet between a double-fronted house in Kensington, a mansion in the Florida resort of Palm Beach, a corporate apartment on New York’s Park Avenue, and his family estate in Toronto.
A pompous figure known for his domineering manner and flowery vocabulary, Black once responded to criticism from shareholders with an e-mail refusing to “reenact the French Revolutionary renunciation of the rights of nobility”.
His fate was finally determined by 12 commoners who received $40 (£20) a day and 45 cents a mile for their drive to court. They heard three months of evidence about the $12,000 commode, $17,710 pair of white marble elephants and $4,399 heated towel racks in his Park Avenue flat.
The swaggering press baron who once famously arrived at a Kensington Palace fancy dress party as Cardinal Richelieu with his wife, the columnist Barbara Amiel, as Marie Antoinette, will have to wear a orange prison jumpsuit.
When sentenced, he faces a lengthy term in a low or medium-security US federal prison, sharing a cell or possibly even a dormitory with other prisoners in a facility ringed by razor wire.
...Black resolutely refused to acknowledge any illegality, drawing a rebuke from the judge for describing the prosecutors as “Nazis” whose case was “hanging like a toilet seat around their necks”.
Despite his bluster outside court, he refused to take the witness stand in his own defence. The only time he spoke during the 14-week trial was to tell the judge: “I decline to exercise my right to testify.”