No Docs, But Big-Name Lawyer OKs $200 Million

A renowned Chicago lawyer and former Illinois governor testified yesterday that he approved $200 million in payments as a corporate director and audit committee chair without documentary support.

In his second day of cross-examination yesterday in the trial of press baron Conrad Black and other executives accused of participating in a scheme to loot the parent company of the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper, witness and well-known lawyer James R. Thompson told a federal jury that he approved $200 million in payments to a Black company “without ever reviewing a single piece of paper to support the payments,” as the Chicago Tribune account of the testimony puts it.

The alleged scheme by a handful of Hollinger Int’l. executives involved undisclosed side deals in newspapers sales. Prosecutors say they diverted funds to the defendants that should have gone to the company.

Thompson is currently senior chairman at his 900-lawyer firm, and until last year chaired both Winston & Strawn and its executive committee, according to the firm’s Web site. It provides further career details on this James R. Thompson page.

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