Fifteen years ago, Garth Drabinsky was Canada’s live entertainment king. As the founder of Livent, he gave Toronto a fleeting glimpse of the glitter and glam of New York and London with his lavish productions of The Phantom of the Opera and Kiss of the Spider Woman. Starting this week, Drabinsky and Livent co-founder Myron Gottlieb are putting on a new kind of show.
It’s taking place in a Toronto courtroom, and the tickets are free.
Key parts will be played by Canada’s most famous lawyer brothers, Edward and Brian Greenspan, who will be representing Drabinsky and Gottlieb respectively.
The charges have been whittled down to three, from the original 19 counts filed in 2002. Two are re-
lated to commercial fraud alleged to have occurred when Livent went public in 1993 and during subsequent operations, plus a more recent surprise charge of forgery. Going into the trial, which is expected to last four to six months, there are three big questions: why has it taken more than 10 years to bring Drabinsky and Gottlieb to trial? Will they be convicted? And what will happen if they are?
James Morton, a Toronto lawyer and past president of the Ontario Bar Association, has been following the case closely. He agrees it has taken forever to get to court, but says that 10 years is actually not unheard of for commercial fraud. “These cases require intense forensics analysis and vast amounts of disclosure,” he says. “Considering how complex this case is going to be, the wait was on the long side, but not unreasonable.”
As for how the trial will progress, Morton thinks it will be a hard case for the Crown to make. “This isn’t like a fraud case where someone sold a diamond ring that turned out to be cubic zirconium. If the fraud took place, it was very sophisticated,” he says. “I’m not convinced there will be a conviction.” According to his lawyer, Gottlieb is similarly optimistic about the outcome. Good thing, because if they are convicted, the accused could face up to seven years in jail. M
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