Black's Corporate Jet Jaunts a 'Security' Measure, Claims Defense

11 April 2007

CHICAGO: Following the Easter holiday, the Lord Conrad Black show continued its run at the US District Court in Illinois under the stage-direction of Judge Amy St Eve. As befitted the resumption of the hottest ticket in town, Act Two opened with a knockabout comedy routine.

The jury, invited earlier by the prosecution to treat His Lordship's use of a corporate jet as an example of illicit use of funds belonging to Hollinger International (H-Intl) stockholders, then lent an ear to the defense's take on opulent aviation.

Attorney, Edward L Greenspan, scorned the prosecution's claim that an August 2000 flight to the South Pacific paradise of Bora Bora [WARC News: 09-Apr-07] represented illegal use of company cash.

Not so, declaimed the mouthpiece. Use of the company's Gulfstream 4 jet had been urged upon the newspaper baron by the H-Intl audit committee as a security measure "because of the nature of the business this company was in."

Moreover, maintained the defense, His Lordship had been working constantly. Therefore his business and private lives were effectively one and the same and most of his travel could be legitimately treated as company business.

Greenspan then turned his attention to the hapless Fred Creasey, former H-Intl financial controller who, prior to the Easter break, gave evidence for the prosecution regarding Black's expenses and use of the company jet.

The legal eagle, determined to portray Creasey as a blunderer whose calculations concerning the Bora Bora trip were absurdly wrong, ridiculed the witness's definition of "US travel" (paid by H-Intl as a matter of policy) as limited to the continental United States, excluding Alaska and Hawaii.

"This just came out of your head? You made it up?", Greenspan demanded. "I developed it," Creasey replied.

The Lord Black show is expected to run for the next several weeks.

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by WARC staff