The Hollinger Ring

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A new investigation spells trouble for media mogul Conrad Black and his cronies, among them Richard Perle, one of the most prominent neoconservative hawks:

Press tycoon Conrad M. Black and other top Hollinger International Inc. officials pocketed more than $400 million in company money over seven years and Black's handpicked board of directors passively approved many of the transactions, a company investigation concluded.

A report by a special board committee singled out director Richard N. Perle, a former Defense Department official, who received $5.4 million in bonuses and compensation. The report said Perle should return the money to the Chicago company.

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  1. This is remarkable:

    “…From 1997 to 2003, the report said, Black, Radler and other controlling shareholders steered 95.2 percent of Hollinger’s adjusted net income into their personal accounts.”

    Whew!

    “Members of the company’s audit committee either didn’t know or didn’t care what Black and Radler were doing, probably because they were too close to Black, the report said. “Black named every member of the board, and the board’s membership was largely composed of individuals with whom Black had longstanding social, business or political ties,” the report said. “The board Black selected functioned more like a social club or public policy association than as the board of a major corporation, enjoying extremely short meetings followed by a good lunch and discussion of world affairs.”

    That’s one way to insure an easy audit, but who was doing the auditing?

    Perle wouldn’t be the first guy in the world to rent his name to a board of directors, but if you are just going to sit on your hands and breathe through your nose in the board room, you better factor this kind of risk into your fee. He must have really trusted the auditors!

    ?So even if the money Perle was given wasn’t the money that was swindled, it?s, at best, yet another example of incompetence by officials in the Bush Administration.

  2. It’s all Bush’s fault? This is way over my head, but is there anything illegal about majority shareholders draining capital from their company?

  3. Way to reach for the Bush bash, there, Ken.

    Owner’s Manual – minority shareholders are give legal protections against majority shareholders, intended to protect them against having the majority shareholders use their control of the board to transfer the minority’s value into the majority’s pockets.

    The real focus, though, is on the board itself – the board has a fiduciary duty to all the shareholders, and allowing some of them to be ripped off by anybody is a breach of that duty.

  4. “…From 1997 to 2003, the report said, Black, Radler and other controlling shareholders steered 95.2 percent of Hollinger’s adjusted net income into their personal accounts.”

    “This is way over my head, but is there anything illegal about majority shareholders draining capital from their company?” – The Owner’s Manual

    Its not illegal if they own 95.2% or more of the shares, announce it, and disperse the remainder of the income to the minority shareholders in proportion to their holdings. That’s what a dividend is. This does not seem to be the case.

  5. RC Dean,

    ’tis the season!

  6. After reading the article, this sounds to me like a food fight amongst big boys with lots of money. Whoopie. At some point their lawyers will hammer down some numbers they can all agree on & they can all go back to dining at the Cosmos Club without scowling across the room at each other.

    Trying to find some criticism of the Bush administration in this is reaching further than even Spiderman would dare, I’d say.

  7. C’mon guys!

    Although, strictly speaking, he’s not a member of the administration, most people would recognize him as an administration official, and he was caught dead to rights in an act of incompetence. So there’s a case to be made that this is yet another example of incompetence by an administration official.

    There’s a little bit of a stretch there, but I don?t think it?s as big of a reach as you guys are making it out to be.

  8. “The report said Perle should return the money to the Chicago company”

    It is difficult to get a criminal conviction against a board member for negligence under the scenario described in this article (even if ALL of it true); but having failed in his ‘duty’ to the shareholders, Perle can be sued for his $5.4 million compensation to be returned to the company.

  9. After reading about Perle’s action here, Doug, you don’t think it reflects badly on Bush that he appointed him to a highly sensitive position with a great deal of influence?

  10. Joe,

    And of course appointing Ron Brown (*cough* selling seats on junkets), Mike Espy (*cough* pardoned by Clinton, thus erasing Tyson bribery charges), Sandy Berger (*cough* theft of incriminating documents), etc. does not reflect badly on Mr. Clinton?

    F*ck off you party-line hack.

  11. Considering W’s stellar (actually, close to criminal) performance in the oil bidness, I’d say it’s perfectly consistent to surround himself with those of similar credentials.

  12. Although, strictly speaking, he’s not a member of the administration, most people would recognize him as an administration official, and he was caught dead to rights in an act of incompetence.

    Oh, come off it. If it was revealed that Janet Reno sucks at Ultimate Frisbee, would it be fair to offer that up as an example of the “incompetence of Clinton administration officials”? No, because Ultimate Frisbee is irrelevant to Reno’s job.

    Bush didn’t hire Perle to balance the books. So what is the relevance of the fact that Perle is either a lousy businessman, or a crooked one? He was hired to advise on national security issues, not to audit Bush’s salary.

  13. Perle was crooked enough when he was Chairman of the Defense Policy Board. This is a private matter that shouldn’t concern us as much as his blatent conflicts of interest while he served as Chairman on that board.

  14. Should dovetail nicely with Perle being used by at least one mole at the pentagon to help shill for an unneccessary war that’s got bogged down. At this rate the Iraqi’s will have been better off with Sadaam.

    Very nice…and too complex for the news to cover…ooooh look the Bush girls and arnie!

  15. NotJoe, the FBI exonerated Berger of all charges, and the Archives confirmed that every single document he touched has been accounted for.

    But you mangaged to miss that story, didn’t you?

    (This is the part where you make fun of Janet Reno’s looks, and think you’ve won, you Republican tool.)

  16. He was hired to advise on national security issues, not to audit Bush’s salary.

    It does make one wonder what a person would have to do in their private life to get their national security clearance revoked. Its probably on the same lines of college financial aid, smoke pot and you lose everything and never get it back; rape a woman or kill another human, serve your time, and you are right back in the game with all your credentials!

  17. Richard Perle denies that Franklin passed any classified information to the Israelis.

    And that pretty much makes up my mind – I mean, the man’s an expert on the subject.

  18. BTW, aren’t trolls supposed to get OTHER people to lose their cool? You seem to be a little unclear…

  19. “Bush didn’t hire Perle to balance the books. So what is the relevance of the fact that Perle is either a lousy businessman, or a crooked one? He was hired to advise on national security issues, not to audit Bush’s salary.”

    You’re right, Dan. It’s not as big of a deal as say, waffling on the Geneva Conventions, which the Schlesinger Report blamed the abuse at Abu Gharib on. It’s not as big of a deal as sending the Secretary of State in front of the U.N. with fake pictures of mobile WMD labs. And it’s not as big of a deal as bombing, invading, occupying a foreign country, killing thousands of civilians and sacrificing hundreds of American troops all on false pretenses…

    …but, still, just like the others, it is an act of incompetence, so let’s give Perle his due.

  20. Joe,

    Hmmm…what about the witnesses in Berger’s case? Guess Berger was just playing pocket-pool?

    As for my being a Republican tool, take of the red-tinted glasses. I am not, nor have I ever been a registered Republican. I just enjoy pointing out your two-faced view of politics and convenient forgetfulness when it comes to your regulating, tree-hugging, redistributing holier-than-thou heroes on the far left end of the pool.

    Oh, did you forget that I also mentioned Espy and Brown? And how about that dipshit private detective that Mr. Clinton appointed to be his first chief of security? Ya know, the one who stole, err…accidentally came into possession of all those Republican FBI files? Didn’t his appointment reflect badly on your hero?

  21. NotJoe, the FBI exonerated Berger of all charges

    Well, no. Th FBI said that he hadn’t actually destroyed the originals of any documents.

    What Berger admitted to are crimes in and of themselves.

  22. Joe,

    What RC Dean said.

    What about that kleptomaniac Web. Hubbell? Didn’t your liberal heroes try to appoint him Attny. General? Guess that doesn’t reflect badly on them either?

    Typical Liberal…history is subjective, isn’t it?

  23. Um … why are you guys arguing about Clinton’s appointees? Yeah, some of them were crooks. Is that supposed to exonerate Perle?

  24. Ken,

    Do you realize how silly it sounds when you try to demonstrate Bush Administration “incompetence” by claiming that they successfully tricked the United States into going to war, and successfully fooled almost every government in the world into thinking Hussein had WMDs?

    The vehemence with which you anti-war loons simultaneously argue that the Bush folks are both incompetent fools AND evil geniuses never ceases to amuse me. You people don’t even bother being consistent from one sentence to the next.

  25. Jesse,

    Just responding to Comrade Joe’s assertion that Perle’s misdeeds should be considered to reflect badly on W — seems that Joe thinks this standard applies to neocons only and that left-wingers are exempt.

  26. Maybe I wasn’t clear.

    You think that Abu Gharib was the result of a plan by an evil genius? You think that showing phony photos of WMD factories demonstrates the mind of an evil genius? You think that pointlessly killing thousands of civilians and squandering the lives of hundreds of our troops is the act of an evil genius?

    Assuming that the Bush Administration “tricked” and “fooled” us all to get their way isn?t the only difference between your view of these events and mine, but it certainly is a big one. You’re assuming intent, and I’m not; I don’t think the Bush Administration tricked or fooled anyone more than themselves.

    I don’t think the Bush Administration intended to deceive us; I don’t think they or anyone else is that smart. But I do suspect that intent may very well be the difference between an evil genius and a buffoon. Who would be so careless as to bet their presidency on a roll of the dice like that? There were so many variables!

    Don’t you get it? They weren’t lying; they were just wrong.

  27. Well, I mean, they did lie sometimes. Whether it was saying there was “no doubt” about the WMDs when they knew full well that many in the intelligence community had plenty of doubts, or claiming that IAEC reports suggested an active, productive nuclear program when no such reports existed, they told at least a few whoppers.

  28. Well, this is just one more name on the list of people Richard Perle will supposedly sue for libel.

    And BTW, notJoe, do you troll Republican lists and immediately respond to criticisms of Sandy Berger, Ron Brown, etc. by challenging “but what about Richard Perle?”?

    Didn’t think so. You political hack.

  29. joe I know you’re a pop culture fiend but maybe you should take off your Spiderman suit when you’re battling in this arena.

    About all I can reasonably conclude about Perle from what I read in the article is that I wouldn’t hire him for investment advice. Bush probably won’t, either.

  30. You know, Lord Black used to be Canadian, eh? I’m just saying . . .

  31. At what point did I defend Clinton?

    Someday you tools are going to have to come up with an argument that doesn’t involve pointing at Bubba.

  32. International Relations, panic button: Saddam was worse!

    Government Corruption, panit button: Clinton was worse!

    Really, gentlemen, you’re just making a spectacle of yourselves.

  33. Real pop culture fiends know how to spell Spider-Man. 🙂

    Kevin

  34. Nice to know Jim Thompson is an incompetent auditor. Of course, you’d know that by reading the 9/11 commission report, too. Or by looking at the Illinois deficit spending he accelerated to the point of turning the voters against his party. With friends like him, the Bush Admin. doesn’t need any enemies.

  35. NotJoe: Espy was acquitted on all charges. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/counsels/stories/espy120398.htm

    Of course, hardly anyone remembers that today–or for that matter that Bert Lance was acquitted or that a number of Nixon administration officials were acquitted (I think Stans and Donovan, to begin with.) They were all associated with “scandals” so that makes them guilty in the public mind…

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