Conrad Black Trial: Partner Radler's Concludes Testimony With a Final Assault on His Credibility
(For a background on media baron, Lord Conrad Black's criminal trial on charges of stealing money from shareholders, see the previous articles listed below.)
May 21, 2007. Last week, Conrad Black's former business partner, David Radler concluded two weeks of testimony on behalf of the prosecution during which time his credibility was under constant attack by the various defence lawyers.
Radler has admitted to lying in order to save his own skin. He also made a "sweetheart deal" with the prosecution to serve a reduced sentence in exchange for his testimony against his friend and business partner. He told Black's lawyer Eddie Greenspan: "I agree that I have previously told lies." He protested, however, that "I did not lie when I talked to the (this) jury." He continued, "Sir, I have been telling the truth since I walked in the door."
The big question is whether the jury believes critical parts of his testimony or whether the defence lawyers will have succeeded by the end of the trial in introducing a reasonable doubt about the charges levied against the defendants.
The defence has been striving to show that while Black looked after the eastern operations of Hollinger International Inc., Radler looked after the western operations, including the sale of the local HII media companies. If this is correct, the deal to sell HII's Southam chain of newspapers to CanWest - Hollinger's biggest sale of media assets - would have been under Radler's control. The sale involved the payment of non-compete fees to Black and the other co-defendants - money the prosecution says was stolen from HII's shareholders.
Radler, however, says he didn't know about various aspects of the sale. Nor did he even see a purchase agreement for the transaction worth more than $3 billion. He also denied knowledge of certain events following the sale.
On May 16, Radler said wasn't aware that HII stock rose 11 percent in value the day after the CanWest deal was announced — even though he held 9,000 shares in the company and was its chief operating officer. Co-defendant Peter Atkinson's lawyer Benito Romano asked Radler "Are you aware the price of the stock went up?" "No," said Radler, adding he was also unaware of stock price increases on two prior occasions following the sale of HII assets.
Asked why he had pleaded guilty to criminal charges against him, Radler said "I am guilty. That's it."
Jonathan Rosenberg Takes the Stand
Radler was followed on the stand by Jonathan Rosenberg, a lawyer for Hollinger International Inc.'s special investigation committee set up to investigate the money's received or taken by Black, Radler and the other co-defendant's. The prosecution sought his testimony that Hollinger International Inc.'s board of directors did not approve the non-compete payments made to Black, Radler and the other defendants. Black's lawyers have maintained that the board had approved the payments.
Rosenberg also provided testimony that 1. CanWest had not asked for any of the sale monies to be designated as the non-compete payments to Black's private company, and 2. According to some of Black's co-defendants, the non-compete payments were in fact management bonuses disguised as non-compete payments in order to avoid Canadian taxes.
Will Conrad Black Testify?
The trial is now entering its closing stages and the big question is if Conrad Black or the other defendants will take the stand in their own defence.