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Wednesday, December 12, 2007
The tragedy of Conrad Black
I have followed the trial, in the US, of the saintly Conrad Black. Now that the unjust sentence has been handed down, I spend much of my time weeping for this maligned man. This is how The Grauniad described it
Conrad Black was sentenced yesterday to six and a half years in an American prison for abusing shareholders' trust through a sophisticated plot to embezzle $6.1m from his Hollinger media empire.I was interested to discover that she fined him $125,000, the merest fraction of the amount embezzled. This is slightly puzzling but, I suppose, it can be attributed to one of the more cynical views of American justice, surprisingly left unexpressed by the victimised Black: that it is retributive rather than restorative.
In thinking about poor Black's fate, the image of him that comes most to mind is that of him dressed as Cardinal Richelieux, accompanying his wife, Barbara Amiel to some fancy dress function (Although I found the picture, the link doesn't work. Sorry.) It reminds me of nothing so much as another of our business worthies, the equally maligned and late, lamented Robert Maxwell arriving at a function, dressed as a sheikh. (Alas, I am again unable to provide a link for you. Such inefficiency!)
Both men shared a similar, justified view of their own importance, inviolability, and perhaps a touch of folie de grandeuer, too. Yet both came to grief in different ways. We can only mourn their passing and hope that it will not be long before we see their likes again, cutting their confident swathes through the finance and media worlds without a thought or care for the next person.
I wish them both well, wherever they may go/have gone.
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