Conrad Black Trial Hears Closing Arguments

20 June 2007

CHICAGO: As the sun prepares to set on the fraud and racketeering trial of Lord Conrad Black, the prosecution has told the court that the erstwhile media baron and his three co-defendants lied and created a false paper trail to cover up their alleged looting of $60 million (€44.8bn; £30.2bn) from publishing firm Hollinger International.

During the closing arguments assistant US attorney Julie Ruder told the jury: "We're not here because somebody made a mistake, we're not here because somebody forgot to dot the Is or cross the Ts."

She insisted the defendants "decided on their own to take a slice of the company's profits".

Black (pictured above) is accused of fraudulently receiving non-compete fees from the sale of H-Intl newspaper titles. Prosecutors also allege he deprived the company of his honest services and repeatedly benefited himself at the expense of the company and its public shareholders through the abuse of company perks

The other former executives on trail with him, John Boultbee, Peter Atkinson and Mark Kipnis, face lesser charges. All of them deny any wrong doing.

Their defence contends the company authorised the non-compete payments - cash paid in exchange for promises that H-Intl would not come back to the circulation areas of the papers it sold to compete with the new owners.

Such agreements are common in the newspaper industry but the prosecution says all of the money should have gone to shareholders.

Ruder continued: "It is time to expose this cover story for the lie that it is. They had a duty to shareholders but their duty was to each other. Their loyalty was to each other."

Closing arguments are expected to last until the end of the week, when the jury will begin its deliberations.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff