Last Updated March 21, 2007
Remarks by Edward Genson, lawyer for Conrad Black:
Conrad Black is not guilty of each and every — each and every — charge in this indictment. He is innocent. And when the evidence comes in, you will see that he is innocent of any wrongdoing.
Hollinger was not a company in trouble. It was built by Conrad Black. It was a company that made money for its shareholders. It was a company that had been attacked and preyed on by people who had built nothing; and who convinced others caught up in something called corporate governance to help them.
It was built from nothing to be one of the world's great newspaper companies. Nothing criminal was done by Conrad Black or anybody else in this courtroom. There were no books altered. There were no false assets. Hollinger put out some of the best newspapers in the world.
There is no issue about changing the financial records. The company was audited by the best accounting company in the world. There was no accounting magic at Hollinger.You have to understand — and there were questions by some of the jurors in their questionnaires — this wasn't an Enron. This wasn't a Worldcom. This wasn't a failing business. This wasn't a failing business of worthless properties. Hollinger assembled, manufactured and sold a real product. There was no accounting fraud, no bankruptcy, no unemployed employees.
This was a healthy and successful company worth billions of dollars and producing some of the world's best newspapers. It was a healthy and successful company until the company was taken away from Conrad Black.
This is not a story about a theft by Conrad Black. This is a story about a theft from him.
The government tells you about public shareholders, and we share their concern; but, Hollinger's largest single equity shareholder was Conrad Black, who was truly one of the owners; just as much of an owner as any of the public shareholders; the largest single owner of Hollinger.
He was not stealing from himself. The company was stolen from him. Men came in and tried to find and pretended to find criminal liability when there was none there. And those men are using the United States Attorney as their tool in order to justify their takeover of the company.
Conrad Black was paid, as normal in the industry, for the value they created; for running the company; and, then, selling the assets wisely. And we will show that he sold the assets wisely.
The government argues that certain non-compete payments that were properly given to Conrad Black and others by the buyers of some of the Hollinger papers should not have gone to Conrad Black. That's what they say.
In fact, it was the payment to Conrad Black in the one transaction that he was directly involved which allowed this immense profit to occur for Hollinger.
You are going to hear from government witnesses, brilliant and accomplished men, who claim they were tricked into acts they did, in fact, do willingly, and with full knowledge of the facts.
You're going to hear about government deals. You're going to hear about government deals, reduced charges, the government recommendations of leniency for Conrad's partner of over 30 years, David Radler.
Radler will come into this courtroom and lie about Conrad Black to help himself. He will lie about events that Conrad did not know about and make up things that Conrad did.
You'll hear how almost every major accusation that the government maintains or makes revolves around a transaction; a transaction performed by David Radler, which magically became a Black-orchestrated deal after Radler cuts his deal.
You'll hear the government's use of word games while trying to establish criminal liability where no criminal acts occurred.
You will hear about facts that weren't mentioned in the opening statement and which I plan to mention a few of, which shows that Conrad Black did not violate the law —
When I talk to you about Conrad Black, I'll tell you that it's a difficult job because it's impossible to take a man's life and talk about it in 15 or 20 minutes. We're much too complex for that.
And as you shall see, this is particularly true in Conrad's case. Mr. Cramer [lead prosecutor U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Cramer] touched on it. He talked about the fact that Conrad Black had become — maybe not in the United States, but in the United Kingdom and Europe and Canada — a very, very prominent man; a political figure; a man … who has written books; a man who has written editorials; a man who goes on television and speaks out for what he believes in.
And as Mr. Cramer wants to characterize it as ego, it is a man who has carried a message, and the same message for years, both in Canada and in every place where he actually participated with his papers.
He's a master of language. For my purposes in this case, he goes a little too much for rhetorical flourishes. And I wish we didn't have to hear his musings. But those things that he says are nothing more than attempts [by the prosecution] to dissuade you from the facts of the case. They don't deal with what he did and what he didn't do. They deal with an attitude that's being made fun of and criticized.
And I accept his attitude; but, the point is that's not what we're here for. What we're here for is to find whether, in fact, Conrad violated the law. And the end result of this is that he didn't.
- Main page
- Charges at a glance
- Trial at a glance
- The rise and fall of a media baron
- Conrad Black in his own words
- Can Black regain Canadian citizenship?
- Lord Black and Canadian too?
- Closing arguments: CBC's Andy Barrie talks to Globe and Mail reporter Paul Waldie
Trial coverage: From the inside
- August 3, 2007
- July 23, 2007
- July 16, 2007
- June 22, 2007
- June 15, 2007
- June 8, 2007
- June 1, 2007
- May 25, 2007
- May 18, 2007
- May 11, 2007
- Letters from the Editor in Chief: Tony Burman
- Media overkill of Conrad Black