Thow receiving threats, his lawyer says


Andrew A. Duffy

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Ian Thow has received threats since he filed for bankruptcy and fled Canada in the summer of 2005, according to court filings obtained yesterday.

The unsworn declaration was part of a response filed by Seattle bankruptcy counsel Larry Feinstein on Thow's behalf.

Thow, who fled Victoria under allegations from his former clients that he owed them more than $32 million, was responding to a Times Colonist motion to make public his answers to questions about his financial affairs from the Canadian trustee overseeing the bankruptcy.

Thow, who has a U.S. passport and resides in Seattle, also objects to the media being allowed to sit in the room during any further examination.

Canadian trustee Michael Cheevers, of Wolridge Mahon in Vancouver, has also filed an objection to the media's motion, claiming it is a Canadian bankruptcy proceeding and therefore should be held in private in accordance with Canadian practices.

The motion and argument will be heard this morning in a Seattle court. A ruling could come as early as this afternoon if Judge Philip Brandt rules from the bench, or longer if he takes it under advisement to study the arguments and evidence.

The 10-page argument Feinstein filed included the statement: "Mr. Thow received personal threats since this proceeding began" as well as the suggestion he "was recently fired from his job as a result of the news media attention to this case."

In an interview, Feinstein said the proceeding is simply not a public process.

"It's not public. It's not a court hearing. His deposition is just an inquiry and that information isn't public knowledge," he said. "His bank accounts, his credit cards, where he lives and where he works is not public knowledge."

When asked who had threatened Thow, Feinstein said he didn't know, though he suggested it was likely someone Thow knew. "He's had some threats. I can't imagine it's just someone on the street that just calls him up. I don't know if he knows who calls him up or not," he said.

Calls to Thow were not returned.

Feinstein said they also object to making the transcript public because third parties who have been assisting Thow could face repercussions.

"Of specific concern is the collateral consequences to third parties that may result from having their identity divulged to the press. Having conducted business with a debtor cannot be the sole basis for allowing the public to scrutinize the private affairs of third parties," Feinstein wrote.

In a reply to both Thow's and Cheevers' objections, attorneys acting on behalf of the Times Colonist and CHEK News maintain the media's right to intervene in the matter is well established.

It goes on to say the arguments made do not provide a compelling argument against making the information public and makes the request that a transcript of the examination be made available within 24 hours of the court's ruling and the court affirm intervenor news media be allowed into future examinations.

aduffy@tc.canwest.com

see: 

Ian Thow takes flight