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CHICAGO, March 20 � In opening statements today, the U.S. government today zeroed in on Mark Kipnis, an Illinois lawyer, as the man who paved the way for media mogul Conrad Black and two other co-defendants to engage in mail, wire and tax fraud and joined in the crimes that bilked Hollinger International Inc. of millions of dollars. Kipnis, who was vice president and corporate counsel for Hollinger International Inc. in its Chicago offices, was fingered by prosecutor Jeffrey Cramer as the defendant who was always ready with a pen to sign off on agreements and other documents that helped illegitimately shift $60 million in shareholders’ money to the four defendants. “You’re sitting in a room with four men that stole $60 million,” Cramer told jurors in a packed Chicago courtroom. Kipnis was their “guy on the inside” that helped arrange the agreements and lie to the company’s audit committee, he said. Hollinger executives and co-defendants Peter Atkinson, a Canadian lawyer, and John Boultbee, also engaged in the scheme, the government alleges. Black, Atkinson and Boultbee received millions of dollars in illegal payments in connection with newspaper sales while Kipnis received $150,000, but they all breached their duty to the company’s public shareholders, Cramer said. Kipnis “breached that duty just like the others,” Cramer told the jury in the U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois.. “His price was just a little lower.” U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve is presiding over the trial, following charges brought by the U.S. government in 2005. The government’s star witness, David Radler, a longtime business associate of Black’s, pled guilty to fraud and is now testifying against his former Hollinger colleagues as part of a plea bargain with prosecutors. The charges mainly revolve around what the government says are illegitimate non-compete agreements tacked onto newspaper sales by Hollinger in the 1990s. Under the non-compete agreements, Hollinger paid millions of dollars to the defendants to ensure the four executives didn’t set up competing businesses against the buyers of mainly U.S. newspapers that Hollinger was selling off. Schiff Hardin attorney Ronald Safer, the lead lawyer for Kipnis, didn’t get a chance to address the court on Tuesday, the day that the prosecution presented its opening statement, but is expected to give his opening statement on Wednesday. Safer is a Chicago attorney who formerly was chief of the U.S. attorney’s criminal division. Before Kipnis went to work for Hollinger in the late 1990s, he worked at a Chicago firm called Holleb & Coff for about 20 years. The firm has since dissolved. Kipnis, who is also a certified public accountant, went into private practice on his own when he left Hollinger, according to a spokesman for Safer’s firm. Kipnis, 59, has the largest defense team with 12 lawyers. He was indicted in August 2005 along with Radler and Ravelston, a company that controlled the publishing empire, including the Chicago Sun-Times, the Jerusalem Post, the National Post in Toronto and the Daily Telegraph of London. Black, Boultbee and Atkinson were added to the indictment in November 2005, after Radler pleaded guilty. The four defendants collectively have hired more than 30 lawyers to represent them in the case, which Chicago attorneys and law professors said was the biggest corporate malfeasance trial to take place in the city in decades. Black, who was the chairman of Hollinger and allegedly engaged in additional crimes, such as seeking to hide 13 boxes of documents from federal authorities, is the main target of the prosecution. Chicago-based attorney Edward Genson responded to the allegations against Black by saying that evidence would show that his defendant may have been a part of the non-compete agreements, but that he didn’t violate any laws in earning what Genson acknowledged was “an awful lot of money.” Benito Romano, an attorney with Willkie, Farr & Gallagher in New York, and Genson both argued that their clients weren’t involved in the troublesome transactions that were led by Radler. They also contended that their defendants sought or got necessary Hollinger board and audit committee approvals for transactions in which their clients were involved. Genson distanced Black from the deals done by Radler in the U.S. by saying the two executives had divided up Hollinger’s newspaper regions with Black taking eastern Canada and some overseas businesses while Radler had regions in western Canada and the U.S. Cramer recounted one newspaper sale episode in which Kipnis asked the buyers of newspaper assets to wire millions of dollars to the Hollinger executives as part of the non-compete agreements and the buyers refused. They refused again when Kipnis asked that instead they simply write a memo on the expected payments, Cramer said. Finally, Kipnis persuaded the buyers to agree to the arrangement if he wrote up the documentation himself, the prosecutor said. When the executives couldn’t get away with the agreements anymore, Black started using perks like personal use of the company jet and a sweetheart deal on the purchase of a New York co-op apartment to take shareholders’ money, Cramer said. In all, the four bilked the company of about $84 million, the government has said. When a Hollinger special committee was ultimately set up to investigate the non-compete agreements, Kipnis told the committee that they were designed to provide bonuses to the executives and were not really a condition to closing the newspaper asset sales, the government contends. Kipnis told the committee that in certain situations the agreements were “silly,” Cramer said. Correction: The original version of this article misidentified Benito Romano, an attorney with Willkie, Farr & Gallagher in New York. The current version of the article has been changed to reflect the correction.

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