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Steyn on Conrad Black trial

Following up on Ted's post of yesterday, I notice that Maclean's magazine is having Mark Steyn blog the trial from Chicago, which promises to make for lively reading. And before leaving the subject of Steyn's earlier piece, I was struck by this passage:

Richard C. Breeden, the court-appointed "corporate monitor" at the collapsed WorldCom and an "adviser" to the special committee of Hollinger International, is on course to become the first corporate governance billionaire. ...Who knew there was so much money in complaining about the excessive salaries of American executives? As Olga and Adrian Stein note dryly in Books In Canada, it is "a remarkable achievement to have turned the knotty subject of ethics ... into a financial fortune."

Mr. Breeden was formerly and famously the chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Today he presides over the half-billion-dollar corporate governance hedge fund at Breeden Capital Management of Greenwich, Conn., which is registered as an investment adviser to Breeden Partners Ltd. of the Cayman Islands. Breeden Partners has approximately $1 billion in assets. The Cayman Islands is in the British West Indies and thus beyond the jurisdiction of Mr. Breeden's successor at the SEC.

I hasten to add I have nothing against Richard Breeden. And I certainly have no desire to attract his attention in any way whatsoever. But it is striking that all the phrases that set off alarm bells in relation to Conrad Black -- "excessive compensation," "Cayman Islands," "lavish personal tastes" -- apply to Mr. Breeden equally and then some. And Mr. Breeden doesn't create any goods, doesn't publish any daily newspapers, doesn't produce anything except internal memos. It's four years since Hollinger put him on the payroll at 800 bucks an hour. That seems an awful lot to pay for a few sharp lines about Barbara Amiel expensing her tips to the doorman at Bergdorf Goodman. The tip was $20. Mr. Breeden earned that in the first minute-and-a-half of his labours for Hollinger.

More: Returning to the Black trial itself, there seems to be some very funny business going on involving someone's having allegedly posed as a juror for purposes of confessing bias: Steyn blog, Worthington.



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.