Andrew A. Duffy
Saturday, October 06, 2007
After two years of fighting, pleading and, more often than not, waiting,
some of the victims of disgraced financial adviser Ian Thow are fed up
with the entire affair and are trying hard to put it behind them.
Their fatigue is understandable considering they've been through the
roller coaster of hearings, lawsuits, bankruptcy proceedings,
investigative interviews and plenty of media scrutiny since Thow, a
senior vice-president with Berkshire Investment Group, left the country
in the summer of 2005.
Thow took off amid allegations he used his clients' money to fuel his
He set up home in Seattle after filing for bankruptcy and left clients
and creditors who claimed he owed them in excess of $32 million.
So after two years of fighting to get back some of their lost savings,
some former clients have had enough.
"I'm sick of it, I just want it all to be done," said former client
Andrea Racicot. "It's been over two years now, let's get on, I find
every time something happens it brings it all up again and I'd just as
soon move on."
But the work may be about to pay off as this month there is expected to
be some action on the Thow file.
The B.C. Securities Commission is expected to release is decision
regarding Thow's activities -- the commission was to have released it
Oct. 9 but has delayed it indefinitely -- the Mutual Fund Dealers
Association of Canada will hold a one-day settlement hearing for
Berkshire on Oct. 22 and there are rumours the RCMP's Integrated Market
Enforcement Team are ready to approach the Crown with their
recommendations after a lengthy criminal investigation.
The rumours IMET were ready to approach the Crown about laying charges
could not be substantiated yesterday as the RCMP would only say they do
not comment on ongoing investigations.
But still there were some former Thow clients happy to finally see some
"It's a great start, it's all starting to come out now," said former
client Brad Goodwin.
"But I never let myself feel any kind of sense of relief because you
never know what's around the corner."
Thow's former clients are not expecting much of a surprise when the BCSC
finally does release its decision, though they do expect the commission
to throw the maximum penalty at Thow.
He is facing a $250,000 fine, the maximum allowed in 2005 when the
investigation started, and a lifetime ban from selling securities in
"I don't care about the (fines and ban) but it's another thing to put
into the book to throw against Thow and Berkshire," said Goodwin, noting
he is more interested in seeing what the RCMP are going to do and if
Thow will be extradited to face a trial.
Ron Black, another of the victims, said he was happy to see things
moving, but asked what good it does for Thow's former clients?
"What's really going to be accomplished from this, they may be found
guilty but what does that do for the people who have lost all their
money," he said, referring to the BCSC's imminent ruling on Thow and the
MFDA's settlement hearing with Berkshire.
The MFDA's hearing, which comes after a two-year investigation into
Berkshire's role in the Thow affair, will provide little if any comfort
for Thow's former clients as any settlement will likely involve
Berkshire agreeing to improve its oversight rules and perhaps paying a
fine to the MFDA.
Neither Julie Clarke, Berkshire's in-house legal counsel, nor Shaun
Devlin vice-president of enforcement for the MFDA, would discuss details
of the proposed settlement which will be ruled on at the hearing.
"We have reached a settlement agreement with the MFDA but that is
subject to approval by the panel, other than that there's little we can
say at this point," said Clarke.
If the agreement is approved it will be made public.