CONRAD BLACK looked more uncomfortable than usual in the eighth week of his fraud trial yesterday. So did his lawyers who repeatedly shouted "objection". The tanned and relaxed witness testifying was the manifestation of Black's nightmare and the target of his lawyers' anger.
In soft tones, David Radler
the prosecution's star witness and Black's business partner for 36 years began delivering the evidence which the prosecution hopes will convict Black of committing a $60 million fraud.
To Black's consternation, in 2005 Radler pleaded guilty to fraud and, in return for a minimum sentence, has agreed to testify against his former partner. "I pleaded guilty to fraud," Radler told the jury soon after he began his testimony.
"I took money from Hollinger in a way that isn't allowed," said Radler about the American company he created with Black.
Radler added that his plea bargain could be revoked if he lied in court.
In return for delivering true testimony against Black, Radler will serve 29 months in a "country club" prison and pay a $250,000 fine. If convicted, Black faces life imprisonment and fines of $92 million.
Radler told the jury he has paid about $8.6 million in restitution. In fact, the total is over $63 million. The judge will decide today whether the jury can hear the true figure which Black claims is prejudicial to himself.
With deft mannerisms, while Black glared from the corner of his eye, Radler gave evidence on crucial aspects of Black's defence. Especially Black's assertion that Radler and he worked in isolation while managing and selling off Hollinger International, their company which owned nearly 600 newspapers across Canada and the US. Over the past weeks, Black has argued that he was ignorant about Radler's activities and therefore was a victim of the fraud.
Directly contradicting that contention, Radler testified that Black had authority over all of Hollinger's worldwide operations and insisted that he brought everymajor financial
decision to Black's attention. "Would you submit them for Mr. Black's comments and suggestions?" Eric Sussman, the prosecutor, asked. "Yes, I would," Radler replied. "I did not make a financial decision without consulting Conrad Black."
"Anywhere in the world?" Sussman asked. "I do not remember selling a newspaper anywhere without consulting Mr. Black," Radler insisted.
To reinforce that testimony, the prosecutor showed the jury several memos from Radler to Black discussing various company operations in the United States and Canada.
Black is accused of taking phoney
non-compete payments from eight sales of his newspapers worth nearly $1 billion. …