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Co-accused to play key role in Black trial

ANALYSIS: Atkinson, Boultbee and Kipnis must differentiate their cases, lawyer says

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

CHICAGO — It's been billed as the trial of Conrad Black, but the former newspaper baron faces justice with three other men whose defence strategies will play a key role as the case gets under way with final jury selection today.

They face fewer criminal charges than Lord Black and that could put them in a difficult spot during the trial. In fact, all three asked to have their cases heard separately, arguing they did not want to be sideswiped by the more serious allegations against their boss, but the request was turned down by the judge overseeing the trial.

Andrew Stoltmann, a Chicago lawyer who specializes in securities cases, said the three will have to try to differentiate their cases for the jury.

"There is no doubt that all four defendants do not have exactly the same interests in this case," Mr. Stoltmann said yesterday. The danger for the other defendants, he added, is that "a jury could view all of these defendants in the same way."

The lawyers for the three will have to make it clear to the jury that their clients were not involved in all the same alleged activity as Lord Black.

Jack Boultbee, Peter Atkinson and Mark Kipnis worked at Hollinger International Inc. with Lord Black and they all face criminal charges over alleged misconduct at the Chicago-based company.

Mr. Boultbee, 63, was the chief financial officer at Hollinger for years and prosecutors allege he was the architect of many of the illicit transactions at issue in the trial. Mr. Atkinson, 59, and Mr. Kipnis, 59, worked as company lawyers and they are alleged to have facilitated and participated in some of the transactions.

Mr. Boultbee and Mr. Atkinson also owned small pieces of a private Toronto holding company called Ravelston Corp. Ltd., which was majority-owned by Lord Black and indirectly controlled Hollinger. Ravelston was also charged in the case, but the company is in receivership and the receiver has entered a guilty plea on its behalf.

All four men have pleaded not guilty and none of the allegations have been proved in court.

While Lord Black has been courting media attention recently with a string of interviews proclaiming his innocence, the other men have kept a low profile. And, as Lord Black's lavish lifestyle has been widely documented, some of the others do not appear to have fared as well.

Mr. Boultbee, once the chief financial officer of Hollinger, turned to an old business colleague, William Pugliese, for help coming up with $1.5-million (U.S.) for bail. Mr. Pugliese, founder of Toronto-based mining company Iamgold Corp., did not hesitate and put up the full amount, believing that his friend will be found not guilty.

Mr. Atkinson's lawyers have already filed documents in court outlining how he paid back some of the allegedly improper payments he received. The filings also seek to introduce evidence showing that Mr. Atkinson conducted an internal investigation in 2003 related to the payments and found that they had not been disclosed to members of the company's board. Upon that discovery, Mr. Atkinson repaid the money, the filings allege. The others have moved to exclude Mr. Atkinson's evidence.

It's not clear yet whether any of the three will testify at the trial. But if they do, they could point the finger at each other as a further way of differentiating themselves, experts say. Mr. Stoltmann said that most lawyers in criminal cases do not want to put their client on the stand, and if any of these three testify, it could be a sign that they believe their case has not been made forcefully enough or that they feel they are losing.

While Lord Black has assembled a high-profile legal team for his defence, including Edward Greenspan of Toronto and Edward Genson of Chicago -- the others will be represented by less renowned counsel.

Many lawyers following the case, and even some involved in the trial, expected at least one of the three co-accused to plead guilty and co-operate with the prosecution. Their former colleague David Radler pleaded guilty in 2005 not long after being charged and is expected to be a star witness for the prosecution.

But one source close to Mr. Atkinson said he never intended to strike a plea bargain. "He was always going to trial," the source said.

Mr. Atkinson has spent some of his time awaiting trial travelling. According to court records, he has visited Vienna and gone to Mexico twice, including once to attend a conference with his wife, who is a university professor.

Nonetheless, Mr. Atkinson has been devastated by the allegations made against him, the source said, and he is eager for the trial.

Mr. Kipnis is the only American on trial. He joined Hollinger in 1998 as legal counsel. His lawyer, Ron Safer, has made it clear that Mr. Kipnis wants to go to trial to prove his innocence.

The Accused

Conrad Black, 62

Former majority owner, chief executive officer, and board chairman of Ravelston Corp. Ltd., Hollinger Inc., and Hollinger International.

Nine counts of mail and wire fraud for allegedly funnelling $83.8-million (U.S.) away from the sale of Hollinger International assets.

Three counts of wire fraud for allegedly abusing company perks, including using a company jet for a vacation to Bora Bora; using two Park Avenue apartments, and spending company funds to throw a lavish birthday party for his wife.

One count of obstruction of justice for removing 13 boxes from his former Toronto office.

One count of money laundering relating to the other allegations.

One count of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act relating to the other allegations.

Two counts of tax fraud relating to the other allegations.

Peter Atkinson, 59

A Toronto lawyer who helped finalize the deals in question, according to prosecutors. He is former part owner of Ravelston, former vice-president and general counsel of Hollinger Inc., and former executive-vice- president of Hollinger International.

Six counts of mail and wire fraud.

Two counts of tax fraud.

John (Jack) Boultbee, 63

A Vancouver chartered accountant, he is described by the prosecution as the "architect" of many of Hollinger's controversial tax strategies. He is the former part owner of Ravelston, former CFO, executive vice-president and director of Hollinger Inc., and former CFO of Hollinger International.

Nine counts of mail and wire fraud.

Three counts of wire fraud.

Two counts of tax fraud.

Mark Kipnis, 59

An Illinois lawyer who prosecutors allege did most of the paperwork for the transactions at issue. He is a former vice-president, corporate counsel and secretary of Hollinger International.

Nine counts of mail and wire fraud.

Two counts of tax fraud.

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