According to reports in The Toronto Star and elsewhere, Garth Drabinsky -- former head of the now defunct theatrical producing organization Livent -- and three of his former colleagues were charged with fraud earlier today. Along with Livent co-founder Myron Gottlieb and the company's former vice president of finance and its chief operating officer, Gordon Eckstein and Robert Topol, Drabinsky was in the custody of the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) this morning, but all of the men were later reportedly released on bail.
While Livent was extant, Drabinsky poured tremendous sums of cash into the company's shows in Canada and the U.S., including the original production of the Stephen Flaherty-Lynn Ahrens-Terrence McNally musical Ragtime and revivals of Show Boat and Candide. Many observers found it impossible to understand at the time how Livent could afford to spend so much money on these shows without self-destructing, but it turned out that it couldn't: a four-year criminal investigation eventually discovered "accounting irregularities" within the company, which went under in 1998. Its assets were acquired by SFX entertainment the following year.
Aside from the RCMP charges, which cite "approximately one-half a billion dollars" worth of fraud, Drabinsky et al. are wanted in the U.S. for fraud and for insider trading, and therefore have not set foot in this country for years. Also, the Ontario Securities Commission last year filed charges against the four men for inaccurate and dishonest accounting.
Drabinsky's lawyer, Edward Greenspan, told the press that his client will plead not guilty to this morning's charges.