Friday, June 27, 2008
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the convictions of Conrad Black and other senior executives of Hollinger International for mail and wire fraud. In an opinion authored by Judge Posner, the court rejected all of the defendants' arguments, finding that there was sufficient evidence for the jury to find that the defendants committed a conventional fraud, a theft of money from Hollinger by misrepresentations. The opinion focused, in particular, on defendants' arguments that they could not be convicted for scheming to deprive Hollinger of its right to the "honest services" of its corporate officers, for the purpose of "private gain," because their objective was to achieve a gain at the expense of the Canadian government (favorable tax treatment), not at the expense of Hollinger. The court rejected this as a "no harm-no foul" argument that "usually fare badly" in criminal cases. There was "no doubt that the defendants received money ... and very little doubt that they deprived Hollinger of their honest services." U.S. v. Black (7th Cir. June 25, 2008).