White Collar Cases Never a Factual Dispute? Try Canada!

In late December I read an article in Portfolio.com that had a great quote that I pondered for a while from Peter Henning, a professor of criminal law at Wayne State University and the founding editor of the White Collar Crime Professors blog.  Commenting on the criminal prosecutions that may result from the financial crisis, Henning said: “That is the great thing about white-collar cases. It is never a factual dispute, it is ‘what did you know and when did you know it and what did you say?’”

I liked that quote and it made sense to me but it turns out that it is only the rule in the U.S., not in Canada. In Canada, at least in the ongoing Livent case, the defendants are going with the “I didn’t do anything, I knew nothing, I was framed” defense.

Crown attorneys prosecuting the co-founders of Livent Inc. for financial fraud told the court today that the defendants’ “implausibly complicated conspiracy theory to explain how an accounting fraud occurred at the company for eight years without their knowledge” was preposterous, the Globe and Mail stated.

“There’s a much simpler – and in my submission, more logical – explanation, which is that the accused did it,” Crown attorney Amanda Rubaszek said.

The Globe and Mail reports that Livent’s co-founders Garth Drabinsky (pictured) and Myron Gottlieb are charged with two counts of fraud and one count of forgery related to misstating the financial statements of Livent from 1993 to 1998. Both men have pleaded not guilty and have accused a former executive of conducting the fraud without their knowledge.

Drabinsky suggested that people planted fake documents in his office, but the Crown attorneys questioned why anyone doing so wouldn’t have planted more incriminating and explicit documents. “It doesn’t make sense – none of it does,” she said. “It’s speculation on the part of the defence who are trying quite desperately to distance themselves from some very damaging documents.”

Read the Globe and Mail article