Livent Co-Founder Garth Drabinsky Fails in Full Parole Bid

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Garth Drabinsky

The former Broadway impressario convicted of defrauding Hollywood super agent Michael Ovitz has been denied a release from day parole.

TORONTO -- Former Livent CEO Garth Drabinsky has been denied full parole after failing to assure authorities his current business ventures do not risk a return to fraudulent activities.

Drabinsky, who appeared before a National Parole Board panel Monday via teleconference, in 2009 was convicted along with longtime business partner Myron Gottlieb on two counts of fraud for cooking the books at a company they eventually sold to former Hollywood super agent Michael Ovitz in 1998.

The parole board officials questioned Drabinsky on his current business activities with corporate shingle Ambassador Entertainment, which includes producing live TV shows.

"Our concern is that what you are doing now is like what you were doing before (at Livent),” panel member Louise Harris told the hearing, the Globe and Mail newspaper reported Tuesday. 

"We need to know if it’s related to the offense cycle, so we can conduct a fair and accurate risk assessment," she added.

Drabinsky, who has been on day parole since his release from prison last year, said he would do nothing to jeopardize his freedom.

"There is nothing on this Earth to move me to do something that would affect my liberty ever again. I can’t go through what I’ve gone through for 15 years – this has been beyond the word devastating to me," he told the parole board panel.

Drabinsky until now has refused to take direct personal responsibility for his role in the fleecing of Ovitz, insisting instead that he likely drove his accountants to cook the books by sheer force of will.

Ovitz and his consortium after purchasing Livent were forced to tip the company into bankruptcy and sell off its assets after uncovering massive fraud in the company books.

But on Monday, Drabinsky for the first time implicated himself in the fraud. “I without question was involved with fraudulent activities,” he told the panel.

The fraud that Drabinsky and Gottlieb orchestrated at Livent, not least by pumping the company’s asset value and share price between 1993 and 1998, is estimated to have cost investors around $500 million.

The National Parole Board is to hold another hearing early in 2014 to consider Drabinsky's bid for full parole.