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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 June 2007, 00:02 GMT 01:02 UK
Conrad Black trial heads to jury
Conrad Black
Conrad Black's fate now rests with jury
Jury deliberation on the criminal charges faced by media baron Conrad Black moved a step closer after the lawyers made final arguments in court.

The jury is expected to retire on Wednesday to consider its verdict on the fraud trial of Lord Black.

The former newspaper tycoon is accused of stealing $60m (30m) from Hollinger International when he was in charge of the group, which he denies.

If convicted, he faces prison and steep financial penalties.

The lengthy trial has centred on whether the entrepreneur who built up a media empire from a single loss-making newspaper in Quebec profited at the expense of shareholders by illegally using "non-competition" payments.

Victim of success?

The payments came at a time when Hollinger, once owner of Britain's Daily Telegraph, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Jerusalem Post, was selling hundreds of newspapers in the US and Canada.

THE CHARGES
Criminal charges
15 charges of fraud
one of obstruction of justice
one of racketeering

Federal prosecutors allege Lord Black
Fraudulently received non-compete fees from the sale of Hollinger International assets
Deprived the company of his honest services
Repeatedly benefited himself at the expense of the company and its public shareholders through the abuse of company perks

Other executives on trial
John Boultbee - former chief financial officer
Peter Atkinson - former general counsel
Mark Kipnis - former corporate counsel and secretary

These are designed to reimburse a company for not competing in a market it has exited.

But prosecutors have alleged that in Hollinger's case, the money was not requested by the newspaper buyers and was used by Lord Black to enrich himself and his co-defendants - former Hollinger International employees Jack Boultbee, Peter Atkinson and Mark Kipnis.

The Chicago court heard testimony from Lord Black's former business associate David Radler - a key prosecution witness - who claimed that Lord Black talked of plans to make "non-competition" payments to a Canadian company he closely controlled in phone calls between 1999 and 2000.

But these claims were not proved by backup documents argue defence lawyers, who have furiously rejected the prosecution's case.

They insist that Lord Black, a British peer, has been persecuted for his successful career and lavish lifestyle.

Mr Radler pleaded guilty to the scheme and agreed to co-operate with the authorities in return for a lenient jail term of 29 months.


SEE ALSO
Black lawyers attack 'evidence'
20 Jun 07 |  Business
Lord Black bonus 'fairly earned'
17 May 07 |  Business
Black 'lied to cover $60m theft'
18 Jun 07 |  Business
The fall of Conrad Black
13 Mar 07 |  Business
Why Conrad Black is in the dock
13 Mar 07 |  Business



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