Friday, July 13, 2007

Conrad Black - Guilty?

Verdicts are in, and Conrad Black has been found guilty of three counts of fraud - so the BBC announce. But has he? Sorta kinda. Mark Steyn has been covering the entire trial, and has been pretty unimpressed at the Government's cases - there were thirteen charges including racketeering, the sort of thing Al Capone did. As Steyn says the verdict is that:

Conrad Black was found NOT GUILTY on racketeering, NOT GUILTY on tax fraud, NOT GUILTY on the CanWest scheme, NOT GUILTY on Bora Bora, the Park Avenue apartment and Barbara's birthday party, NOT GUILTY on the individual non-competes on US newspaper sales.He has been found GUILTY in just two narrow areas - "obstruction of justice" re the security camera footage of him removing boxes from 10 Toronto Street, and three "mail fraud" counts relating to the APC non-compete agreement.

The obstruction of justice conviction looks ripe for appeal, and that leaves us with those three counts of fraud. The BBC describe it thus:

Media tycoon Conrad Black has been convicted of three charges of fraud and one of obstructing justice by a jury in Chicago. But Black was found not guilty of separate charges of racketeering, wire fraud and tax evasion.

Which is odd really. Why specify that Black was not guilty on wire fraud if you are going to describe him as guilty of fraud? Because Black was found guilty of mail fraud, a concept alien to English law and really rather odd. Essentially, it means that Black (and associates) used the Federal Mail to further a fraudulent piece of business. Whether that stacks up is another matter: Steyn thinks it the easiest of the charges to stick on Black.

However, given that Black was facing cumultaive jail time of well over 100 years, a five year stretch for abusing the Federal Post Office doesn't seem too bad. If he can't get off the obstruction charge though, Black will still be looking at 35 years behind bars. Given that his crimes amount to taking boxes of pre-disclosed documents out of his office, that seems a trifle excessive. Oh well, at least we'll all sleep safer in our beds eh?

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Blogger Ross said...

The charges look pretty trumped up to me, yet most of the media is making Black out to some sort of reincarnation of Robert Maxwell.

1:30 am  
Blogger Tim J said...

To look at the coverage you'd think he was the bastard offspring of Horatio Bottomley and Ronnie Biggs...

9:24 am  

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