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Michelle Charest and Ronald Weinberg, the husband and wife founders of Cinar.

RYAN REMIORZ

He is widely credited with triggering the events that brought down Cinar Corp., one of Canada's most successful children's programming companies, in a high-profile financial scandal.

Over a period of 14 years, his dogged sleuthing and relentless zeal in gathering detailed evidence to prove that Cinar and partner companies stole his idea for a children's animation series became the stuff of legend.

Now, Claude Robinson is celebrating a bittersweet victory in Quebec Superior Court.

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A judge yesterday awarded him $5.2-million and total vindication in his case alleging that, in the 1990s, Cinar and Cinar principals Ronald Weinberg and Micheline Charest, as well several European animation company executives, plagiarized his idea for a series entitled Les Aventures de Robinson Curiosité.

The victory is bittersweet because it will likely be months or years before Mr. Robinson, a Montreal-based graphic artist, painter and sculptor, finds out if he will even get any compensation, given the likelihood of an appeal.

Mr. Robinson says he has suffered financially and emotionally over the 14 years he has been pressing his case. He says he has no desire to return to the entertainment business. "I don't want to touch that world," he said in an interview.

Asked if he ever though of quitting, he replied: "Every day. But I didn't let go because I knew I was right and they were lying."

As part of the detective work related to his own case, Mr. Robinson discovered that Montreal-based Cinar, producer of kids' fare such as Caillou and Arthur, was using fake Canadian names on scripts actually written by Americans in order to qualify for federal and provincial tax credits.

The resulting allegations of tax fraud in 1999, which were later settled in deals with authorities, sent Cinar, and its high-flying stock, into a tailspin from it which it never recovered.

Mr. Weinberg and Ms. Charest, the celebrated husband-and-wife founders of Cinar, were forced to step down in 2000 in the wake of further revelations of $122-million (U.S.) of company money that was invested without board approval in high-risk offshore accounts.

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What was left of Cinar was sold in 2004 and relaunched as Cookie Jar Animation Inc. Ms. Charest died in 2004 from complications related to cosmetic surgery.

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