A GUIDE TO THE KEY CHARACTERS IN THE SAGA OF HOLLINGER INTERNATIONAL
A GUIDE TO THE KEY CHARACTERS IN THE SAGA OF HOLLINGER INTERNATIONAL • BY CATHY GULLI
When Conrad Black was removed from Hollinger International in late 2003, it was Gordon Paris, a company director and member of the special committee that investigated Black’s spending and leadership, who became “interim” president and CEO. At the time, the New York City investment banker espoused the notion that litigation against Black marked a step towards returning to shareholders “the value that was inappropriately taken” from Hollinger. (Ironically, Paris resigned in 2006 amid criticism that he failed to improve the
company, and was overpaid—in excess of US$9 million—during his tenure.) Paris may know more than any other board member about Hollinger’s inner workings, and is expected to speak for the special committee in testimony, detailing the often-nasty meetings that culminated in Black’s removal.
James Thompson, the Republican from Illinois known as “Big Jim,” was a long-standing member of Hollinger’s audit, compensation and stock options committees during Black’s reign. The state’s longest-serving governor (14 years), he began his career as a lawyer, winning major corruption convictions against local and state politicians. Thompson, who was also a representative on the 9/11 commission, is expected to testify about the processes for awarding Black’s compensation and approving his expenditures over his many years on the company’s board.
Montreal-born economist Marie-Josée Kravis is a senior fellow at the Hudson Insti-
tute, a New York-based think tank, and president of the Museum Of Modern Art in New York City. While she was a director of Hollinger and a member of its influential audit committee, Kravis and her husband (Wall Street financier Henry) were also social acquaintances of Black and Barbara Amiel. Her testimony is expected to explain Black’s financial dealings as head of Hollinger, but may also delve into the couple’s place in New York’s high society.
Henry Kissinger, “the elder statesman” of American politics, epitomized the intel-
lectual sophistication of Hollinger’s board. The 1973 Nobel Prize winner served as U.S. secretary of state to Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, and led the 9/11 commission. His consulting firm, Kissinger McLarty, advises companies around the world on investment opportunities and government relations. Kissinger was a confidant of Black’s for more than two decades, and may testify about the nature of Hollinger board meetings, hopefully shedding light on whether the directors were fully briefed on Black’s compensation, or if they were misled.
When Richard Breeden was the head of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission from 1989 to 1993, his goal was reportedly to leave white-collar criminals “homeless, naked and without wheels.” Now, as a corporate monitor of Hollinger and the main author of the Breeden report, the damning investiga-
tion that launched the case against Black, Breeden appears similarly relentless. He has already called the company a “corporate kleptocracy,” and accused Black of using his power to run Hollinger for his own personal benefit. Breeden will likely be presented as a neutral investigator reporting his findings, but the defence may try to make the case that Breeden distorted facts to collect millions in fees from the Hollinger debacle.
Before they were the co-accused alongside Black, Peter Atkinson, Mark Kipnis and John “Jack” Boultbee were Hollinger executives and among Black’s closest business advisers. Atkinson, a Canadian lawyer who worked at Aird & Berks, was a Hollinger legal adviser and senior vice-president. Kipnis, a Chicago attorney, was the corporate counsel and secretary of Hollinger International, specializing in transaction law. Black’s long-time tax man was Boultbee, a Toronto accountant,
who served intermittently as executive vice-president and chief financial officer at Hollinger. The Breeden report alleges that the three executives made money from improper non-compete payments they received, instead of Hollinger International and its shareholders. If any of the co-accused decide to take the stand, they are expected to present a united defence with Black, saying that they disclosed all the required information and were unaware of any impropriety.
THE REST OF THE CAST
Several others Hollinger insiders are expected to provide important testimony at the trial, including:
• Board members Raymond Seitz and Richard Burt (both former U.S. ambassadors) and Bush administration adviser Richard Perle, all of whom are expected to testify that the directors were misled by management.
• Leonard Asper, chief executive of CanWest Global Communications, who may offer insights regarding the non-compete payments paid out when Black sold most of the company’s Canadian newspapers in 2000.
• Paul Healey, former head of investor relations for Hollinger, should comment on his many conversations with Black when shareholder complaints were escalating.
• Auditors for KPMG have agreed in an affidavit to testify for the prosecution that they were misled by Black and others. M
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