Wednesday, March 21, 2007

How Much Crime Can One Company Muster?

A newspaper media company is at the center of 4 criminal proceedings. The former CEO is on trial along with a number of other high ups for diverting some $60 million away from the corporate coffers to their personal profits.

The former President and Chief Operating Officer acknowledged his role in the scheme. He’s expected to get preferential treatment for serving as the prosecutions star witness. This same COO settled with the company for his role in the matter to the tune of $28.7 million. This includes the crime of back dating stock options according the company’s March 18th press release.

The new CEO is the former head of Chiquita Brands International which just settled with the Justice Department for paying millions to Colombian terrorist groups. Chiquita paid a $25 million fine.

The company formerly known as Hollinger is the Sun-Times Media Group. Conrad Black is the swindling CEO, David Radler the COO and Cyrus Freidheim the brand new chief executive.

Who sat on the board while the corporate coffers were raided? Former Assistant U.S. Defense Secretary Richard Perle got skewered for his role in the swindling. An ex-SEC chief’s investigation termed Perle “a faithless fiduciary”. However, the report found Henry Kissinger acted reasonably in his role as an independent board member.

Richard Perle came to the forefront not long ago criticizing the Bush administration’s execution of the war in Iraq. As a member of the Project of the New American Century, Richard believed strongly in the mission. He cited the prosecution of the war as problematic and in one case he termed it illegal.

Vanity Fair had this to say about Richard Perle after their interview. “According to Perle, who left the Defense Policy Board in 2004, this unfolding catastrophe has a central cause: devastating dysfunction within the administration of President George W. Bush. Perle says, “The decisions did not get made that should have been. They didn’t get made in a timely fashion, and the differences were argued out endlessly.… At the end of the day, you have to hold the president responsible.… I don’t think he realized the extent of the opposition within his own administration, and the disloyalty.”

What other PNAC adviser booted their fiduciary role as a board member? Richard Armitage’s adviser Kenneth Duberstein sat idly by as Fannie Mae melted down.

Should Autonomy , Tapestry Pharmaceuticals, Vital Spring Technologies, and the Morgan Crucible Company shareholders be concerned given Mr. Perle’s past bungling in a fiscal oversight role?

It appears more than Hollinger/Sun Times Media Group has questionable activity. Given Autonomy’s Meaning Based Computing, I suspect they’ve already put this information together. But it doesn’t do to have Electronic Discovery on one of their board members….

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