Contributing Lawyers

Canada

Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

United States

Susan Kohn Ross

Australia

Andrew Hudson



Ontario Judge Sentences Garth Drabinsky and Myron Gottlieb to 7 and 6 Years in Jail

On August 5, 2009, Ontario Judge Benotto pronounced the sentence in the Livent case. Mr. Garth Drabinsky was sentenced to four years on count one (fraud) and seven on count two (forgery) to be served concurrently. Mr. Myron Gottlieb was sentenced to four years on one count and six on count two to be served concurrently. It is important to note that these sentences correspond to the sentence in the United States of Mr. Conrad Black (which is currently under appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court).

Mr. Drabinsky and Mr. Gottlieb were convicted on March 25, 2009 of two counts of fraud and one count of forgery after Judge Benotto ruled they systematically manipulated the financial statements of Livent Inc. from 1993 to 1998 as the live theatre company reported soaring profits. The reasons for the conviction may be obtained at the following link - http://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2009/2009canlii12802/2009canlii12802.pdf

I do not have any views about the men who were sentenced today. I will note for foreigners reading this blog posting, Mr. Drabinsky and Mr. Gottlieb founded Livent Inc., a company that produced such theatre performances, such as Kiss of the Spider Woman and Showboat. Both men were at the centre of "high-society" in Canada.

The purposes of this blog posting is to provide information on Ontario's sentencing of persons convicted of white collar crimes. Judge Benotto is sending a strong message that Ontario is tough on white collar crime. Judge Benotto said at sentencing that the appropriate sentence range for the crimes was five to eight years, and declined to sentence at the high end because of mitigating factors in both cases. However, it is worth noting that 6 and 7 years is higher than what commentators were predicting yesterday see Bloomberg.com - http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=aJBhSutRkIss).

Judge Benotto said "No one is above the law," and "No one gets to write their own rules." These are words that will be repeated by prosecutors in the future again and again.

It is guaranteed that Mr. Drabinsky and Mr. Gottlieb will file an appeal and attend a bail hearing today for bail while the appeal is underway. White collar criminals in Canada are usually granted bail while they appeal, in contrast with those convicted in the United States. We will wait to see whether a second message is sent.

This case is important as white collar crime is a form of crime that appears to be getting more attention. There are a number of cases in the United States and around the world in areas such as:

  • bribery of officials (also known as foreign corrupt practices)
  • money laundering
  • tax evasion
  • export controls violations
  • fraud
  • forgery

Some white collar crimes are international in nature and some are purely domestic. Both forms appear to be on the rise. Both forms will continue to get more attention, especially during a global economic downturn.

In a second white collar crime case decided today, Ottawa mayor, Mr. O'Brien was found not guilty in a corruption/influence peddling case. On Sunday, Mr Schreiber was extradited to Germany to face bribery and tax evasion charges. Earl Jones (Canada's Mr. Madoff) was taken into custody last week. Two more Ponzi schemes are being investigated in Canada. It is a busy time for white collar defence lawyers.

For more information on the Canadian legal system and white collar crime, please contact Cyndee Todgham Cherniak at 416-307-4168.

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