This week has been a whirlwind for me personally so my quantity of posts has been less than stellar.
I had been retained as a real estate expert for the prosecution (US Government) in media baron Conrad Black‘s federal trial, going on now in Chicago. I testified in Chicago on Tuesday.
I had the pleasure of intereacting with really sharp and energetic DOJ attorneys and FBI agents.
Obviously, I can provide no specific comments about the case, but it was a terrific experience (not even factoring in the US Department of Justice cafeteria food). I have performed court testimony in many different matters over the years but this trial was one of the highlights of my professional career. My testimony was widely covered in the media (see links below).
Normally I wouldn’t even bring this sort of event up, but I was struck by the fact that there has been so little coverage of the trial in New York, that I was surprised by the amount of media presence in the courtroom.
Here’s an excerpt from the Chicago Tribune:
Miller’s testimony bolstered the government’s charge that Black, Hollinger International’s former chairman and chief executive, received a sweetheart deal for the apartment, defrauding shareholders of millions of dollars. The apartment sale, prosecutors allege, was part of a scheme involving Black and four former executives to steal $84 million from Hollinger International, now called Sun-Times Media Group Inc.
Summary of some of the coverage:
Expert says New York apartment worth $8.5 million [Chicago Tribune]
Jury sees Black taking boxes [Chicago Sun-Times]
Prosecution drops one charge against Black [Globe and Mail – Canada]
Lord Black breaks a habit and stays silent in defence [The Times – UK]
Price for apartment low [The Province – Canada]
Ok, back to work.
Tags: Canada, Canadian Housing Market
Without violating any confidentiality or compromising your role as an expert, can you lay out the facts about the Conrad Black apartments?
I crafted a blog post about it, but gave up when I could not figure out the facts from this terrible NY Times piece, which may be hidden from public viewing at this point:
From this article, it looks as though Hollinger bought the “upstairs apartment” for $3mm, which Black renovated for $2mm. Then Black bought the “ground-floor apartment” for $499k (“Black subsequently purchased…”), which Hollinger paid $1.4mm to renovate. Convoluted, but that’s what the Times says.
But then there’s this: “In the end, Mr. Black had the ground-floor apartment valued at $850,000, 70 percent higher than what he paid for it and not accounting for the cost of renovation. He then paid the remaining $2.15 million cost of the upstairs unit in cash. ”
Why have the ground-floor appraised if Black owned it? (Perhaps to value Hollinger’s renovation value??) What is the “remaining $2.15m cost of the upstairs unit”, if Hollinger paid for it long ago, and Black paid for the renovation when it happened?
Terrible editing by the Times – unless I am missing something simple in all this….
I did not realize you were involved in the trial when I read the piece, but I thought of you on reading “Black had the ground-floor apartment valued at $850,000”. My blog post was going to be about appraisal fraud but I couldn’t figure out enough facts to make sense of it.