Conrad Black - Loveable Rogue Or Dirty Crook ?

Here's another item sent in by our 'Highly Placed Professional'.

'You only have to look at Conrad Black's smile to understand what's going on in his mind. He excudes that quiet confidence born of a feeling of superiority. That didn't help him though - one of the mighty have fallen again. Black's been found guilty of fraud and obstructing justice, ordered to pay a fine and will serve clink time in a US medium security prison facility.

But even the 42 year old judge who oversaw Black's case was perplexed by what motivated him - 'I frankly cannot understand how someone of your stature...could engage in the conduct you were engaged in'. Well I know why. He was plain greedy, thought he was above the law and considered the profits of his Hollinger newspaper empire to be his and his cohorts' 'droits de seigneur'. Black, however, continues to be supported by a host of friends and associates who refer to his charitable work and generous disposition. Well it's easy to be generous with other people's money! Black's way, of course was the old way. Post Enron, Tyco, WorldCom and the rest, CEOs are much more accountable to their shareholders. Long gone are the days when the boss of a public company can live high on the hog at the stockholders expense.

In a way, though, Conrad Black comes across as a loveable rogue. But there's the small question of the millions that have allegedly vanished from his companies, and the likelihood that US regulator the Securities and Exchange Commission will be investigating the matter further and seeking to recover assets next year. The Blacks' story, then,  is one of modern larceny on a huge scale - what's been described, in fact, as 'corporate kleptocracy'. But I admit that I don't feel that sense of self-righteous anger and schadenfreude at Black's downfall. We should, however, remember that a lot of people have lost money over Hollinger. It's just a shame that Black couldn't have been happy with what he had - money, success, influence, intellect, looks, respect etc. But 'absolute power' and all that...........'.

READER COMMENT

1. 'Black got off with a few million and got banged up (quite rightly). CEOs at places like Citi and Merrill cost their stockholders billions, yet they walked off into the sunset with multi-million dollar exit packages! Where's the justice in that ?'.

2. 'The difference is that Black was stealing, whereas the billions that were frittered away by investment banks was down to poor management. Anyway, Lord Black got off likely, and should have been banged up for longer. And the stockholders at Citi have only got themselves to blame for the bath they have taken - they were the ones who, after all, cast their viotes in support of the directors who got the company into its current mess'.

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