TORONTO — Criminal indictments against Livent founders Garth Drabinsky and Myron Gottlieb, issued by the U.S. government Wednesday, will have no effect on an ongoing Canadian criminal inquiry, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
“It’s totally business as usual,” said RCMP constable Michelle Paradis. “The investigation is progressing as quickly as possible on a day-to-day basis, and we’re hoping to bring it to a conclusion as quickly as possible.”
The two Livent execs were indicted Wednesday by a Manhattan federal court on 16 counts of conspiracy and securities fraud related to an alleged attempt to conceal “tens of millions of dollars” in losses by Livent.
Paradis said the RCMP was working independently of the U.S. courts.
“We’re talking about two different judicial systems. The demands are different in each, and we’re talking possibly about different offenses. I can’t get into the investigation by any means,” she said, “but should we need assistance from the U.S., we will ask, using the judicial systems in place and vice versa.” She would not elaborate further, and the U.S. Attorney’s office in New York did not return calls.
About 35 RCMP officers raided Livent’s Toronto headquarters in December and carted away hundreds of boxes of files of potential evidence.
The ongoing Canadian investigation raises the prospect of a jurisdictional dispute, depending in part, according to academics, on whether prosecutors in the two countries choose to try the defendants for the same offenses.
“Then it’s a question of who goes first, and there is no rule on that. Obviously it will also depend on the strength of the evidence uncovered in the course of the investigation,” said Patrick Healy, professor of criminal law at McGill University in Montreal.
Drabinsky and Gottlieb’s lawyers, brothers Edward and Brian Greenspan, will probably try to slow down the American prosecution so they can dovetail it into the Canadian prosecution, suggested one Canadian lawyer, who asked not to be named. “That’s so he knows where he stands and so that he has one package to offer.”