Andrew A. Duffy
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
A Seattle court has ruled disgraced Berkshire investment adviser Ian
Thow must provide answers to the Canadian trustee handling his
Late last week trustee Michael Cheevers learned the court ruled Thow
must answer the 13 questions he has asked of Thow's sources of income,
places of residence and employment information.
The examination is part of the trustee's search for more than $32
million former clients and creditors claim they are owed by Thow, who
left the country in the summer of 2005 after declaring bankruptcy.
"I don't have a final court order yet, but as far as I understand it the
court has required Mr. Thow to answer our questions," said Cheevers,
noting Thow has until June 29 to hand them over.
The answers to those questions may also shed some light on why two
former Thow clients have been sending him money.
Two of the questions posed to Thow ask him to describe his relationship
with Nanaimo car dealer Tom Harris and Alberta farmer Kevin Prins, and
to detail the amount of funds he has received from them and what goods,
services or consideration, if any, he provided in return for that money.
Cheevers has said he has bank statements proving the men provided funds
Reached for comment Monday, Harris would say only, "I don't think it's a
concern," and would not discuss anything about Thow on the record.
But while Harris wouldn't talk about it, the matter did come up during
one of the regular meetings of the support group made up of Thow's
Some of those former clients have expressed their frustration and
disappointment that Thow is still being funded, while others are holding
off judgment until they understand the reasons why.
According to one of the former clients, Monday's meeting was mainly
about updating the group about developments in the two-year-old saga,
including the three-week B.C. Securities Commission hearing into Thow
which wrapped up June 14.
The BCSC is now awaiting the prosecuting counsel's written argument due
June 29, with an oral submission expected July 6.
"But mostly our meetings are about sticking together," said former
client Ron Black. "That's how we were able to get anything [out of
Berkshire as a settlement] in the first place, and it's the only way
we'll be able to get anything going forward, though there are no
Berkshire agreed to 16 settlements involving 27 of Thow's former
clients. Terms have not been disclosed.
Some of those clients are also dealing with Scotiabank. They allege the
bank didn't follow proper procedures when it issued loans for
questionable investments that cost them millions of dollars and left
them at risk of losing their homes.
Scotiabank's role in the Thow affair seems to have been providing loans
and lines of credit totalling about $5 million to as many as 15 of
That matter is before the ombudsman.
Cheevers at this point is waiting to see if Thow's answers will shed any
light on where the money went.
Cheevers' investigation traced more than $26 million moving from the
accounts of clients into Thow's own accounts in the 30 months before he
When asked if some of that money met the same fate as the $6 million
traced by the forensic accountant who testified at the BCSC hearings
that Thow used his clients' money to fuel his own lifestyle, Cheevers
said: "I think that's a fair assessment."