This entry isn’t about the tabloid-worthy sad fate of Amy Winehouse (just as her album, Back to Black, is ringing up a series of awards nominations). It’s about the equally sad fate of Conrad Black. The former media baron was sentenced today to six and a half years in jail for his actions as the head of Hollinger.
Black will be approaching 70 when he completes his sentence, which was lighter than the 20-plus years that prosecutors had pushed for.
Of course, he said nothing when he left the court. That’s in keeping with the style of how he conducted himself during the trial. Black’s crimes essentially come down to having an utter disregard for what it means to run a public company. Shareholders were not entitled to hear the whole truth. They were expected to show gratitude for being allowed to buy a part of a challenged media empire.
Meanwhile, Black treated Hollinger as his personal ATM, to be tapped for whatever expense he deemed fit for the head of a high-profile media empire. Had he kept it private, it may well have ended up healthier. And he most certainly would still be in a position to enjoy the lavish lifestyle to which he became accustomed. He just wouldn’t have been able to force outside investors to unwittingly fund it.
How can you manage smarter? Bloomberg Businessweek contributors synthesize insights from the brightest business thinkers, critique the latest management trends, and comment on leaders in the news.