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On Being Sued by Conrad Black

Last week, Conrad Black launched a $1.25-million libel lawsuit against me, Random House of Canada and its editors over four sentences in my book “Thieves of Bay Street” that discuss his case. You can see the National Post article here about the suit:

http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/06/22/conrad-black-suing-publisher-for-1-25m/

While I won’t argue the merits of the suit on this blog at this time, I do want to remark on how his action speaks volumes about how the Canadian business elite enjoys luxuries the rest of us cannot avail ourselves of.

The thrust of my book is that if you’re rich you can get away with investment fraud because the Canadian establishment has no interest in prosecuting their own. This reality applies to the American establishment too, where the lords of Wall Street who drove the global economy into the ditch remain unprosecuted to this day.

In Canada, though, where our wealthy form a much smaller and tighter cabal, their odds of getting fined, prosecuted and jailed are even more remote. In Ontario, for example, the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) prosecutes investment fraud at a rate of 10 times less than the SEC – which is saying a lot given how godawful the SEC’s track record is for pursuing securities violations.

The reason I wrote about Black was that I felt his case highlighted the kid gloves approach Canada’s corporate and regulatory elites take towards white collar and economic crime. Long before American prosecutors or regulators got wind of problems at Hollinger, the OSC was warned by a former member of one of Black’s corporate boards, as well as one of Hollinger’s former publishers, about potential improprieties committed by its top executives, including Black. Yet the Commission ignored these warnings and instead stood aside and watched while the US Attorney General’s Office went after the executives. Toronto securities lawyer Wesley Voorheis, who took over running Hollinger Inc. after Black was forced out, also urged the RCMP to investigate Black. The Mounties refused.

In 2005, the OSC laid a raft of allegations against Black and other Hollinger top executives over breaches of securities laws. All of the hearings into those allegations were adjourned and the case has gone dormant for at least three years.

In 2001, Black threw away his Canadian citizenship in order to sit in the antiquated and irrelevant House of Lords in Britain. And yet, as soon as he was released from prison, the Tory government immediately extended him permission to return to live in Canada (do you think if Black were a poor man with a criminal record and no Canadian citizenship the Tories would have let him set foot on Canadian soil?). Black is now running a very public PR campaign – including lengthy primetime interviews on CBC and CTV – to rehabilitate his image and, naturally, get his citizenship back. He claims he is an innocent man (despite his long history of run-ins with the justice system going back to the early ‘80s).

You can be sure that he will likely succeed in this endeavor. After all, Canada is rather banana republic in that respect: We are content to allow our rich run amok and we do nothing to stop them.

 

Comments

Comment from David Macdonald
Time: June 25, 2012, 6:17 am

Keep up the good fight Bruce! You should start an online campaign to raise money. If it worked for a bullied bus monitor it may work for you (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2012/06/21/bullied-bus-monitor-karen-klein.html)

Comment from Paul Tulloch
Time: June 25, 2012, 7:07 am

Great stuff Bruce, it is very important In terms of freedom of speech, that this case is dropped against you. Conrad is out of jail and he wants to rewrite history by bullying anybody that dare suggest a reality based version of history. If he succeeds against you, many others could be forced to put their collective historical pens down.

My question- why does Canada even spend money on its sec, the financial elites in this country have forever owned corporate regulation, so why not privatize the sec and be done with it. It is surely an expensive charade, I would much rather see that money be out into something constructive.

As Conrad full well knows, the safest place to be when one is a white collar crook, is Canada, hence why he has come back.

Having him drivel on and on with his notions of life the universe and everything, on a daily basis within our media, a month after being out of prison, is quite proof in the pudding. Lets have a convicted criminal, advice our political elites and shape public opinion on the best way to run our country.

Their is a reason Conrad is back in the colony.

Comment from Britta Hansen
Time: June 25, 2012, 6:33 pm

Well Bruce, I’d never heard of this book of yours, but now I’ve just got to read it. Sorry to hear you’re being sued (by Black of all people), but congradulations on one more books sale!

Comment from Thomas Bergbusch
Time: June 28, 2012, 7:05 am

Yeah, Bruce, really benefited from your book — set up a facebook page or something for your legal defense, so we can contribute.

Comment from Tree tree
Time: July 19, 2012, 10:19 am

Bought your book, out of interest, and to help you in your defence.

Comment from Ken Montague
Time: August 2, 2012, 11:03 am

If a man really is known by the quality of his enemies, you must be a fine fellow.

By the way, I’m just finishing “Thieves” and if as a result of reading it I have to start taking blood-pressure medication, I’m going to sue you too.

A fine book that needed writing.

Comment from Bob Williams
Time: August 2, 2012, 12:48 pm

If you look at the history of economics you will see that, what I refer to as the economic transaction form USURPATION (the willful taking of another’s wealth without the others consent) a notion proferred by Kal Polanyi clearly has overshdowed any other transaction form including the “Market”.

Comment from Bruce Livesey
Time: August 2, 2012, 12:57 pm

Thanks for reading the book and the kind words, and sorry to cause your blood pressure to rise. You will have to get in line behind Black if you want to sue me, though.

Comment from Nick Falvo
Time: August 17, 2012, 4:36 pm

Bruce:

Let me know how I can be supportive.

In solidarity,

Nick

Comment from Alex Brown
Time: October 3, 2012, 9:42 am

When I first found Livesey’s book in the Indigo store I was intrigued. However, he lost me in the first chapter when he introduced Conrad Black’s case.

Conrad Black is a bad example of corporate fraud because of what Sussman did as lead prosecutor and the outcomes of the trial. Despite having the full weight of the US justice system behind him Sussman was only able to get 4 convictions out of 17 charges. Two convictions were later overturned on appeal and Black is pursuing legal action to get the other two quashed.

If anything Sussman is an example of how NOT to prosecute white collar crime but that is not why Livesey calls on him for content.

I believe that writers who take on the task of informing the public on serious issues like corporate fraud have an obligation not to pander to public phobias and misconceptions just to sell books.

Levesey invokes Black’s name soley to attract readers. He does this to make money not to inform.
He owes Black something for this.

Perhaps he should pay Black for the right to include this case in his book.

Comment from André Chapdelaine
Time: October 8, 2013, 1:56 am

Ne lâchez pas.

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