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CHICAGO � Schiff Hardin attorney Ronald Safer used a “top ten (or so) list” to guide his closing arguments in the defense of former Hollinger International corporate counsel Mark Kipnis, who is on trial in Chicago with former Hollinger chairman Conrad Black and two other co-defendants on charges they bilked shareholders out of $84 million. Sticking with his opening theme that U.S. prosecutors don’t have all the pieces of a puzzle to convict his client, Safer on Monday posted a list of “pieces” that he said the government “must fit” to show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Kipnis intended to defraud shareholders. As Safer compared himself to TV talk show host David Letterman, he lifted the placard list onto a stand in the federal courtroom and then began pulling Velcro-ed covers off the “pieces” as he moved through his arguments. Safer mainly argued that Kipnis, an Illinois real estate attorney who joined Hollinger in 1997, had been open and honest about Hollinger’s transactions and did the best he could with the information he had. “That conduct makes it clear that Mark did not intend to be part of any fraud scheme,” Safer said. While the prosecutors allege that Black and defendants Peter Atkinson and John Boultbee siphoned off $60 million by way of so-called non-compete payments they personally received when Hollinger sold U.S. newspaper assets in the late 1990s, they cite Kipnis only for taking a $150,000 bonus for facilitating the scheme. The additional $24 million was meted out in perks mainly to Black, according to the indictment. Safer argued that Kipnis “earned every cent of that bonus” and reminded jurors that the government’s key witness, former Hollinger president David Radler, stated in testimony that the money paid to Kipnis was a legitimate bonus. Kipnis looked on intently during Safer’s closing statement with his hands clasped on the table in front of him. “The real picture shows a man who’s innocent,” Safer said. Defense lawyers for the other three defendants previously presented their closing arguments. U.S. prosecutors will have an opportunity to rebut the arguments before the jury begins deliberating on verdicts later this week.

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