Conrad Black gets media apology and favourable court ruling courtesy of Enron’s Jeffrey Skilling
Ex–media mogul Conrad Black should send a thank-you card to fellow corporate convict Jeffrey Skilling. The former president and CEO of Enron successfully challenged the use of a statute referred to by the U.S. Supreme Court as the “honest services” law, which was used to convict him of corporate fraud in 2006. Skilling’s challenge also resulted in a public reconsideration of Black’s case and, most importantly for gentlemen like Lord Black, an apology from the Wall Street Journal, which upon enlightened self-reflection found it had been too hard on him.
The law criminalizes any scheme that deprives another of the “intangible right of honest services” (pretty much anything that would make Michael Moore‘s blood boil). Skilling’s defence, and the law’s critics, say the law was ambiguous and therefore could not be used legitimately by prosecutors. As the Washington Post—one of the many newspapers to editorialize on the subject—wrote, “All nine justices concluded that the honest-services law was so broad and so vague that it could capture all manner of behavior, including what many reasonable people would not consider criminal.” Thus, to protect benign connivers, the statute was scaled back last Thursday.
Skilling’s victory won’t bail him and Black out any time soon, but we think they’re hoping it’ll give mad money men less of a bad rep. CEOs 1: robbed pensioners 0.
• “Honest services” law used too liberally by the courts [National Post]
• Wall Street Journal apologizes to Conrad Black [Maclean’s]