Drabinsky’s hearing gets under way

Former B'way biggie charged with fraud, insider trading

TORONTO — The long-awaited preliminary hearing of former Broadway impresario Garth Drabinsky kicked off in a Toronto court Monday.

Drabinsky, partner Myron Gottlieb and two other senior executives were charged in 2002 with defrauding creditors and investors of nearly $408 million after a four-year probe into alleged financial irregularities at their defunct theater company Livent.

Drabinsky and Gottlieb also have 16 outstanding fraud and insider trading charges, as well as a civil suit filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 1999.

Evidence will be covered by a publication ban, a common practice at preliminary hearings.

Drabinsky, Gottlieb, former VP of finance Gordon Eckstein and former chief operations officer Robert Topol have all requested a jury trial in Ontario Superior Court.

Drabinsky’s lawyer, Edward Greenspan, said the hearing is scheduled to run four days a week until April 7. He said he believes the time is warranted by the huge volume of material in the case.

“Our position is that they will never prove it, that our clients do not accept anything that’s been said, that no criminality occurred at Livent … that they would be vindicated should there ever be a trial someday,” Greenspan told Reuters.

Livent, founded in 1989, was one of the world’s biggest producers of live theater in the 1990s.