Today’s Livent verdict: Blue pens are very popular
As the Livent saga grinds on, the analogy I drew between Livent accountant Gordon Eckstein and Hollinger turncoat David Radler is being proven in spades—with one significant enhancement. Where Radler based his entire testimony on his recollection of a series of phone calls with the accused (Conrad Black), Eckstein is snaking his way through a positively Amazonian paper trail that leads to and from the desk of Garth Drabinsky. And, natch, it all suggests an accounting fraud that makes the shilly-shallyings of our old pal Jack Boultbee pale in comparison.
This was Eckstein’s second day on the stand, and throughout the morning, he offered a litany of “roll overs” and “roll forwards” that were punctuated by the prosecutor’s inevitable question (which, after a fashion, might have been set to music as call and response): “Is that proper?”…“Is any of this proper?”…“Again, proper?” And each time, the question was answered by the chorus of one: “No, no and no.”
Moreover, on each occasion, prosecutor Robert Hubbard would draw a document from the library of binders bordering both sides of the courtroom and point to specific memoranda that lay out in detail the specifics of the scheme—often annotated by Drabinsky’s own (alleged) handwriting. At one stage, a fellow scribe handed me a note neatly summarizing what everyone in the gallery was thinking: “They’ve got it all written down. That’ll be their downfall.”
The Crown mounted more and more evidence based on this deluge of paper, and with it came the inevitable protestations from the Greenspan corner. Brian objected at one point regarding the provenance of these notes: “My friend [Hubbard] keeps falling into the habit of editorializing, referring to the same blue pen.” Eddie, too, rose at his usual stately pace and admonished the Crown’s interpretation of the documents—even Hubbard’s take on the ink on the page. “I don’t admit anything in this regard,” evaded Eddie.
There was talk of handwriting experts. At one point, Drabinsky, clearly miffed, huddled with the Greenspans, making clear his interest in having an unambiguous statement from the defence that indicated their willingness to litigate the alleged origins of each and every piece of paper entered in evidence.
Beyond that, Eckstein got off what the public benches agreed was the quote of the trial so far. In describing Drabinsky’s day-to-day involvement with the bean-counting aspects of his theatre company, Eckstein said, “Mr. Drabinsky was sophisticated in accounting and terminology, and on many occasions he told me he is smarter than any accountant.”
I thought I saw Eddie wince at that one, though of course I can’t be sure.
• Fake Livent records documented, court hears [Toronto Star]• Former VP tracked fake books, court told [Financial Post]• Eckstein feared he would be blamed [Globe and Mail]• Case builds against theater duo [Variety]