Black sentenced to 6.5 years
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
That has to suck. Moffat (that's Conrad Black's middle name) was sentenced to 6.5 years to a US prison. He could have actually served his time in a Canadian jail, but gave of all us (Canadians) the finger when he renounced his Canadian citizenship to become "Lord Embezzelus of the UK." As a convicted felon, he can't even enter his natal country to visit his Toronto mantion. "We ain't like his kind, around here."
I'm sure his lawyers will take a big chunk of the blame, and his money, for this court failure. There are questions, however, that only Black has the answers to. For example, why would he hire a Canadian lawyer to represent him in a US court? Why not follow on OJ's footsteps? I don't mean the committing of actual crimes (OK, allegedly committed), but the hiring of really good, ultra expensive lawyers to acquit him of any wrong doing. Whether he was guilty or not, it should have been up to his well dressed lawyers to prove and not him.
(Note, however, that if Black were to actually follow on OJ's steps, we can expect his next pedantic volume: "Black, if I had embezzled shareholders' money, this is how I would have done it.")
But enough contempt for the once Canadian, Moffat. It has to be sad for his family that he has to spend any time in any jail. As per his crimes, he has been proven guilty by his peers. In our society, that's all it counts. He maintains his innocence, but I don't think deep inside he believes he is. Moffat has a law degree and he has proven himself to know a thing or two about the world, so knowing when he crosses the line has to come with the territory.
I heard on the radio that he had a 1 hour speech prepared for the court. His lawyers persuaded him to cut it short. In fact, it was so short that it became a 3 minute address. I wonder if while preparing his original speech he pictured himself as the imaginary Hank Rearden, of Rearden Steel, giving his statement at his trial:
I do not want my attitude to be misunderstood. I shall be glad to state it for the record. I am in full agreement with the facts of everything said about me in the newspapers - with the facts, but not with the evaluation. I work for nothing but my own profit - which I make by selling a product they need to men who are willing and able to buy it. I do not produce it for their benefit at the expense of mine, and they do not buy it for my benefit at the expense of theirs; I do not sacrifice my interests to them nor do they sacrifice theirs to me; we deal as equals by mutual consent to mutual advantage - and I am proud of every penny that I have earned in this manner. I am rich and I am proud of every penny I own. I made my money by my own effort, in free exchange and through the voluntary consent of every man I dealt with - voluntary consent of those who employed me when I started, the voluntary consent of those who work for me now, the voluntary consent of those who buy my product.
I think Rearden's statement applies to modern day industrialists and entrepreneurs, whether imaginary or not. Nevertheless, it seems that Conrad Moffat Black broke one of Rand's main philosophical tenets: he was found guilty of taking advantage of others for his own benefit. For that, shame on you Lord Moffat.