The large and distinguished board of Hollinger International should have been aware of how money flowed out of the cash-strapped newspaper group, avers its second-largest institutional investor, New York firm Tweedy Browne.
Tweedy's managing director Christopher Browne, writing in today's Financial Times, points the finger at former and current Hollinger directors, demanding that they justify their approval of the $300 million (€246.45m; £172.49m) in management fees and non-compete payments made to chairman Lord Conrad Black and other executives since 1995.
Hollinger's current board includes such well-known political figures as former Illinois governor James Thompson, erstwhile US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, and Richard Perle, one-time defence advisor to the White House.
Other notables who served on the board as independent directors during the period in question are British publisher Lord George Wiedenfeld, economist Marie-Josee Kravis and Robert Strauss, senior partner at one of the world's largest law firms Akin Gump Strauss.
Referring to this august assembly, Browne peeled off his kid gloves. "If any part of the fees paid out by Hollinger is deemed inappropriate and the board is found not to have acted responsibly in approving them, we have asked . . . that the special committee seek repayment," he warned.
"To the extent that Lord Black and his associates are unable or unwilling to repay those funds, any board member who served in this period could well be liable."
Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff