Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ex-Director Outwits Black's Attack Dog

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ex-Director Outwits Black's Attack Dog

Article excerpt

IN THE battle for his acquittal, Conrad Black calculated that if Richard Burt, a former Hollinger director, was discredited under cross examination, then the prosecution against him for fraud would crumble.

Destroying Burt was vital for Black's acquittal.

After months of planning and dispatching Ed Genson, his famous lawyer, into the attack, Black yesterday eagerly anticipated the fatal shots. Instead, after the smoke cleared, Burt was still standing - erect and barely injured. Without glancing at either Lord or Lady Black, he swept out of the courtroom and flew back to New York.

Burt, a former US ambassador in Germany, had earlier testified that neither he nor other members of Hollinger's all-important audit committee had approved "a pattern of payments" worth $60 million which Black had pocketed.

"I knew nothing about those payments," Burt testified.

"I relied on the management to be truthful." Black i s accused of defrauding Hollinger, his media company which owned the Telegraph group.

In his defence, Black claims

that David Radler, his former partner who has pleaded guilty to fraud, acted alone and exploited Black's ignorance about the sale of Hollinger's newspapers in America which triggered the $60 million of non-compete payments. The prosecution alleges that the payments were a ruse to take unapproved bonuses from Hollinger.

Among Genson's tasks was to prove that Radler acted alone in selling Hollinger's American newspapers and allocating the payments to himself, Black and two other directors.

Genson described the partners who worked together for 36 years as acting in isolation, dividing their tasks - Radler running operations in America while Black managed Britain and Canada. "And just as the business was run," Genson said earlier, "it was sold".

Yesterday Burt rejected that description. During 10 years as a Hollinger director, Burt said, "I didn't see this compartmentalisation you are putting of Radler and Black. …

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