CHICAGO: Defense lawyers for Lord Conrad Black have contended there is no evidence to prove the media baron and his three co-defendants looted newspaper publisher Hollinger International of $60 million (€44.8bn; £30.2bn).

Jurors at the fraud and racketeering trail were told by Edward 'Fast Eddie' Greenspan that his client was being persecuted because of his wealth and success: "In America, you do not convict someone for being rich. The government is trying to distract you."

During closing arguments at the end of the three month long hearing, Greenspan also claimed testimony from the prosecution's star witness, David Radler, was "unreliable" because Black's former close associate was a self confessed "liar".

Greenspan told the court the only evidence that Black deliberately stole the money was claims of alleged phone calls - without backup documents - by Radler, who has pleaded guilty to one charge of fraud in return for a lighter sentence.

He insisted: "The government didn't have a smoking gun because there isn't one. They had no case so they were left with David Radler, a man so ready to lie to save himself."

Black faces life behind bars if he is convicted of pocketing "non-compete" payments and perks which the prosecution says should have gone to H-Intl shareholders. He denies all the charges.

His co-defendants, Jack Boultbee, Peter Atkinson and Mark Kipnis face lesser charges and also deny any wrongdoing. Their lawyers will begin summing up shortly, and the jury is expected to begin its deliberations next week.

Data sourced from BBC Online; additional content by WARC staff