Thursday, November 12, 2009

Billionaire Canadians need not apply, but for those with a fradulent bent the door seems open!

The rather unusual corporate compass of Gary Bettman's NHL made a new heading today, as the Commissioner welcomed Henry and Susan Samueli back into the fold on Thursday, bringing to an end the indefinite suspension that Mr. Bettman had announced back in June of 2008.

The Samueli's had been suspended after Mr. Samueli entered a guilty plea to federal officials over apparent lies that he made to the Securities and Exchange Commission. For a good portion of 2008 he and other officials at Broadcom had been under investigation by federal officials over business dealings regarding the communications company.

At the time of his suspension, Mrs. Samueli also stepped aside as an owner in a self imposed separation from the league, in their place the Samueli's turned the team operations over to Michael Schulman, the Ducks' chief executive officer and a longtime friend of theirs.

While the Commissioner may be ready to get things back on track in Anaheim, the legal troubles for the Samueli's aren't quite over yet. Mr. Samueli's Chief Financial Officer at Broadcom, William J. Ruehle just began his trial, for 14 counts of fraud, conspiracy, falsifying Broadcom's books and lying to auditors and securities regulators.

As well, Mr. Samueli's former partner at Broadcom, Henry T. Nicholas III will also be getting his day in court, as he tries to persuade the judge as to the validity of his not guilty plea on a number of charges of his own.

We're sure the upcoming days in court will provide for more fascinating details of the financial ethics and corporate dealings of all involved with Broadcom.
The eventual status of Mr. Samueli will have to wait until those two trials work their way through the system.

U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney last year rejected that plea bargain that Samueli struck with prosecutors, it would have guaranteed that he would face no prison time after he paid an unusual $12-million fine, a result which Judge Carney suggested would mean that Justice was for sale.
A recent appeal to a panel of California judges didn't work out as planned either, as that panel ruled that they had no jurisdiction on the case. This we imagine, puts the proceedings back in the hands of Judge Carney and means that Mr. Samueli may yet become a guest of the State of California, in one of their gated public housing operations.
To avoid that fate, Mr. Samueli last week petitioned the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider reinstating his rejected plea bargain with the federal government. His lawyers have cited possible violations of his fundamental Fifth Amendment privileges in the declined plea bargain.

This is apparently a sign in the eyes of the Commissioner that the Sameuli's legal problems are behind them. Though you might think that Mr. Bettman may be getting ahead of the courts there and might just have to revisit the ownership status once again, depending on the results of all this legal activity

It's an interesting revelation as to the priorities of the the Commissioner in that he feels that this might perhaps be considered a good day for the NHL, returning the franchise to an executive who has admitted his guilt in lying to a federal securities body.

At the same time that the Commissioner seems willing to forgive and forget that indiscretion, he still continues to throw roadblocks in front of Jim Balsillie, the Canadian billionaire, who in addition to not having been convicted of anything, actually has the financial wherewithal to operate an NHL franchise with one would imagine little difficulty.

It's that kind of astute business judgement in itself, which probably explains the mess that the NHL is in these days more than anything.
This item originally appeared on HockeyNation

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