Former State Governor Testifies at Black Trial

03 May 2007

CHICAGO: The fraud trial of fallen media magnate Lord Conrad Black and three former executives of publisher Hollinger International heard from an ex-director of the company about multimillion dollar payments that were allegedly undisclosed to the board.

Former governor of Illinois James Thompson told the court he was not aware of 'non-compete' payments being diverted to H-Intl's parent Hollinger Inc.

Black and fellow defendants Peter Atkinson, John Boultbee and Mark Kipnis stand accused of pocketing $60 million (€44m; £30.1m) following the sell-off of a raft of H-Intl newspapers - cash that should have gone to the company and its shareholders.

The quartet denies any wrongdoing and claims payments to executives were made with the knowledge of the board.

Thompson told the court: "They didn't advise us" when managers sought board approval for one of the deals. "I would expect [executives] to inform the audit committee that they had been beneficiaries of a transaction."

But Thompson was also taken to task by defence counsel as to why he signed several company documents that spelled-out the payments and indicated they had been approved by directors.

He replied: "I skimmed them. They were prepared by management and by counsel and if anything was amiss I would have presumed they would have pointed that out and they did not."

He also claimed that Black and his erstwhile associate David Radler (who has plead guilty to one count of fraud and is expected to be a star prosecution witness) "ran the business as a duo".

The defence has tried to distance Black from Radler, claiming the latter was the real culprit, and that the pair operated in different geographic spheres.

The trial continues.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff