December 13, 2007. On December 11, 2007, Chicago Judge Amy St. Eve sentenced Lord Conrad Black to 6 1/2 years in prison, a $125,000 fine and $6.1 million dollars in forfeiture.
In her comments, the judge said, "You have committed a serious offence, a very serious offence... . Mr. Black, you have violated your duty to Hollinger International and its shareholders. I frankly cannot understand how somebody of your stature could engage in the conduct you have engaged in and put everything at risk... . In the U.S., there's equal justice under the law. No one is above the law and that, Mr. Black, includes you."
Prosecutor Eric Sussman had told the court that Lord Black had repeatedly lied to shareholders, stole company money and had shown no remorse for his actions. "Simply put, he's not sorry," Mr. Sussman told the judge. He urged her to impose a sentence that would deter Lord Black's future behaviour and send a message to corporate America that "good corporate governance is not a fad."
Judge St. Eve also ordered Black to submit to DNA and drug tests within 15 days, and to report to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons on March 3, 2008. Originally, the judge agreed with a request from Black's lawyers to recommend to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons that Black serve his time at the Eglin Prison Camp, a minimum security prison dubbed "Club Fed" close to his Florida home. However, upon learning that the facility is about to be closed, the recommendation was changed to a prison in Coleman, Florida.
Black will be required to serve 85% of his time before being eligible for early release. Because he is not a US citizen, Black can be sent to an immigration holding centre after serving his time to await deportation.
Black's Defence lawyer Eddie Greenspan remarked that after his client's conviction, Black faced a virtual life sentence and the loss of his home. "At the end of the day, to end up where we ended up is a hell of a lot better than where we started," he said.
Black and his lawyers have said that they will appeal the verdict within ten days.
More than a hundred letters of support for Conrad Black were filed with the court by former prime minister Brian Mulroney, pop star Elton John, U.S. political commentator Rush Limbaugh and Canadian Nobel Prize winner John Polanyi.
Prior to the sentencing, Lord Black said in a brief statement, "We have the verdict we have and we can't retry this case. I do wish to express very profound regret and sadness at the severe hardship suffered by all the shareholders, including employees, by the evaporation of $1.85 billion in shareholder value under my successors."
Conrad Black and Corporate Governance
Lord Black's statement was less an apology for his actions and more a charge against "corporate governance zealots" who he blames for the misfortunes of Hollinger International Inc.
Black had previously predicted that he would be acquitted of all charges and that his acquittal would transform corporate governance around the world.
There is speculation that Black will profitably use his time in prison writing a book, perhaps one against corporate governance as perceived by him.
Black's experience with corporate governance is mainly in the realm of shareholder rights. However, the primary role of corporate governance is to provide structured leadership - strategic direction for an organization, how the organization will achieve its goals and objectives, and who is responsible and accountable for an organization achieving its goals and objectives.
With respect to the conduct of corporate leaders, a guiding principle is to "put the company before yourself."
John Boultbee, former chief financial officer of Hollinger International Inc. (HII), was sentenced to 27 months in jail, a $152,500 restitution and a $500 fine.
Peter Atkinson, former executive vice-president of HII, received a 24-month jail sentence and a $3,000 fine.
Mark Kipnis, chief legal counsel of HII, was given 275 hours of community service, five years' probation, including six months of home detention with an electronic tag.