What distinguishes this scandal is Black’s jaw-dropping sense of entitlement. By almost every account, he thought of shareholders as sharecroppers, bugs on his corporate windshield. He ran Hollinger as a personal fief, doling out favors to directors while accumulating the usual clutch of mansions, private jets and billionaire baubles. He intimidated inquiring journalists with lawsuits; when the Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien moved to block his entrance into the British House of Lords, the combative Black sued him, too. (1)
A fraudster of considerable importance, Black also defrauded the public in – other – ways. Ways in which he will gleefully admit to. A pretty disgusting example would be using his paper ownership to attack political candidates he disliked and mislead readers to vote for a particular political party and candidate he would prefer. From Conrad Black himself:
We had a good time with the election in Sept-Iles. All my local opponents ardently supported the Parti Quebecois candidate, the local head of the Steelworkers. Our reporting was fairly balanced for most of the campaign, but we did an editorial sand-bag job on the P.Q., complete with publication of a poll indicating a Liberal victory. There was no indication of the number of people sampled so the fact that I consulted only seven people (including myself) never came to light. (2)
And he talks about it with such amusement, which makes one “doubt his ethics”. An act such as this is really indicative of the kind of person Black is. He’s dishonest, and doesn’t mind using his privilege and wealth to affect outcomes in his favour.
As I promised before, let’s talk about some lawsuits of Conrad and why he’s perusing them. Below, an excerpt from Thieves of Bay Street describes the amount of money Black swindled out of Hollinger International. This was the main reason Conrad was brought to court and ultimately convicted of fraud:
As Hollinger International began posting huge deficit, losing US$337 million in 2001 and another US$231 million the following year, Black and five senior Hollinger International officers were compensated with about US$110 million for this two year period.
…[an investigation] uncovered US$32.2 million in previously undisclosed payments to Black, Radler and other Hollinger International executives that hadn’t been authorized by or even known to the board, a discovery that cost Black his position as CEO and chairman and send Radler and other executives packing.
…Most dramatically, investigators found that Black and and Radler and their associates had taken out more than US$400 million in “management fees” over a seven-year period. This was on top of the already generous salaries they collected from Hollinger International.
People of the internet, the reason I bring this up is because Conrad Black is now suing Bruce Livesey, the author, for 1.25 million dollars. Not nearly a year out of prison, not nearly a year back in Canada, and Conrad Black is already in the process of suing someone for bringing up the fact he was convicted and the fact he took millions of dollars from Hollinger.
And he’s still trying to get the other author who wrote about himself, Tom Bower, for 2.5 million dollars. He’s suing Bower for the same reason – bringing up the fact he took a lot of money from Hollinger International and was convicted for it.
So I say, do you part and defend these authors. Buy Thieves of Bay Street. Now only are you helping an investigative journalist pay for a defence against Richie Rich Conrad Black, you’re going to have good material in your hands.
(1) BURROUGH, BRYAN. “‘Wrong Way’ and ‘Lord Black’: Board Game.” The New York Times 2 Jan. 2005
(2)Conrad Black, A Life in Progress, p.125