Black Watch: Today’s Top Stories

This morning’s papers featured the first hard news coverage on the fallout from the Black trial in a couple of weeks. Prosecutors in the case want Conrad Black, Jack Boultbee and Peter Atkinson found “jointly and severally liable for $16.95 million in proceeds of the fraud scheme for which they were convicted.” And they should, as a result, forfeit that amount as part of their punishment. The funds would be raised by some combination of Lord Black forfeiting the proceeds of the sale of his Park Avenue apartment, the seizure and sale of Black’s Palm Beach property and/or the seizure and sale of Atkinson’s property in Napa, California.

There’s something weirdly irrational about all this, since on top of the forfeiture, St. Eve will likely levy hefty fines against the three. And all this in addition to jail sentences that should clock in at a dozen or more years for Black and eight or more for his accomplices. Forfeiture is one of the ways that American justice isn’t just done, but the way it’s seen to be done. The felon mustn’t be seen to have benefited from his crime in any way, and whatever benefit there was must somehow flow back to those who have been aggrieved. President George Bush (the elder) once said that, “Asset forfeiture laws allow [the government] to take the ill-gotten gains of drug kingpins and use them to put more cops on the streets.” How this applies in the case of Conrad Black is anybody’s guess, but I’m thinking that pardon might be a while in coming.

U.S. government seeks $16.95-million from Black and co-defendants [Globe and Mail]Feds want media mogul and pals to forfeit $16.95 million [Chicago]Prosecutor seeks $17-million from Black, 2 others [Globe and Mail]


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