Friday, March 23, 2007
Although the vast majority of the media attention has focused on Lord Conrad Black's role in the alleged looting at Hollinger International, there are three other defendants on trial who may have a significant impact on its outcome: former CFO Jack Boultbee, former executive vice president Peter Atkinson, and former general counsel Mark Kipnis. In his opening statement, Kipnis' lawyer, Ronald Safer, for chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago, appeared to be distancing his client from the other defendants, all of whom have much longer ties to one another. According to a National Law Journal story (here), Safer emphasized that Kipnis owns one house in the Chicago area, unlike Lord Black, and only received a $150,000 bonus for his work on the transactions, unlike the millions reaped by others.
An interesting question is whether any of the other defendants will testify, and if they do, whether one or more might try to emphasize his lack of involvement in the transactions as compared to Lord Black. I doubt Lord Black will testify after his attorney described him in the opening as arrogant. The opening statement on behalf of Kipnis certainly indicates that he may testify to establish his lesser role in crafting the non-competition payments at the heart of the case. It's not clear whether any mud will be sent in Lord Black's direction, but the attorneys for Boultbee, Atkinson, and Kipnis will be looking out for their clients well-being and may not hesitate to point fingers. (ph)