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Defense in Conrad Black trial says money earned, not stolen

May 17, 2007|From Reuters

CHICAGO — Defense lawyers at Conrad Black's criminal fraud trial sought to show Wednesday that millions of dollars prosecutors claim he and his former colleagues stole was legitimate, hard-earned money.

With star government witness David Radler nearing the end of testimony, lawyers explored a deal in 2000 in which most of the Canadian newspapers owned by Black's Hollinger International Inc. were sold to CanWest Global Communications Corp. for 3.2 billion Canadian dollars.

Benito Romano, the lawyer defending Black's former top attorney and codefendant Peter Atkinson, asked Radler, "Is it fair to say Peter worked around the clock on this transaction?"

"As far as I know, yes," replied Radler, Black's longtime business partner.

Hollinger's stock jumped $5 when the deal was announced in July and rose an additional 26% when the company announced it was selling its U.S. community newspapers, Romano noted.

The CanWest deal produced 80 million Canadian dollars in noncompete fees, money to guarantee that Black's company would not reenter the media markets it was leaving.

Some of that went to Atkinson and another defendant, accountant Jack Boultbee, as part of a larger pattern of bonuses that prosecutors say cheated the company out of $60 million.

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