For as long as there have been companies and accounting standards there have been people who are trying to beat the system and divert some of the company’s profits and assets to their own pockets. In this report we will discuss an accounting scandal that surfaced in 2004 and it involved Hollinger International as well as Conrad Black who was the CEO at the time. History of Hollinger International Inc.
The original Hollinger was discovered in 1909 by Benny Hollinger, it was a gold mine named Hollinger Gold Mine. Hollinger became an incorporated company in 1910. In 1978 Conrad Black, upon gaining control of Argus Corporation Limited, acquired a control block of Hollinger Mines and the company eventually became Hollinger Argus Limited. On September 17, 1985 Hollinger Argus Limited amalgamated with another two companies to form what is currently known as Hollinger Inc. After 1985 the company started to acquire newspapers and started to divest itself of all other holdings except certain real estate properties they had acquired. (The History of Hollinger Inc.) Currently Hollinger is a global newspaper with English language newspapers in the United States, Great Britain and Israel. Some of their major assets include The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph and The Spectator in Great Britain, The Jerusalem Post in Israel and a number of community papers in the Chicago area. (Boritz, Robinson). Hollinger International, Inc is a publicly traded U.S holding company based in Chicago. Black was the controlling shareholder, chairman and chief executive of International, Inc. and Ravelston (Fitzgerald, 2005). Hollinger Inc. is a publicly traded Canadian holding company based in Toronto.
Conrad Black and David Radler improperly diverted million dollars from the company during the time when he was the CEO of the company. Their preferred way of redirecting money was by creating fabricated non-competition agreements with their subsidiaries. By using this method, they managed to take more than $90 million in supposed consideration for the execution of non-competition agreements. Also they managed to take 9.5 million dollars in late 2000 by falsifying closing documents used to provide a pretext for the transfer. The internal lawyer facilitated the unauthorized transfer of cash with falsified documents and was paid a $100,000 special bonus at Radler’s direction. Black and Radler transferred income-generating Hollinger assets to entities secretly controlled by them for free, or at prices known to be below market value. Furthermore, they took approximately $80 million in Hollinger cash as loans, without paying market levels of interest and using Hollinger’s own cash to repay debt owed to Hollinger, or simply not repaying the debt. In addition, they diverted nearly $200 million in excessive and unjustifiable management fees. Paid senior associates $5.3 million in incentive compensation on Hollinger Digital transactions by disregarding $67.8 million in investment losses. They also allowed sales proceeds to be reduced by $39 million in order to offset a side deal negotiated by Black in which CanWest agreed to pay them $3.9 million in perpetuity. They scammed Hollinger to spend $9 million over a five-year period to purchase papers and memorabilia of former U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt without authorization. Black’s persistence was able to convince the company to spend this money, which he used to decorate his personal residences in Palm Beach, New York and other locations. Finally they filed proxy statements and other disclosure documents with the SEC that contained false statements or omitted to include material information regarding fees and other forms of compensation or related party transactions that involved transfers of tens of millions of dollars out of Hollinger (SEC Info 2004). Governance Structure
RCL is a private holding company owned by Black, Radler, Colson, Boultbee, Atkinson,...
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