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Police still examining Ian Thow files
No decision on whether to lay charges


Andrew A. Duffy
Times Colonist
Wednesday, February 13, 2008

VICTORIA -- Eight months after receiving the RCMP file on disgraced investment adviser Ian Thow, B.C.'s Crown counsel is still no closer to laying charges.

According to spokesman Stan Lowe, the Crown is still in the midst of doing a charge assessment and due to the sheer size of the file it's impossible to say when charges could be laid.

"It's a huge file, so it will take a substantial period of time to get through all the documentation," said Lowe, noting it's not simply a matter of reviewing the evidence to ensure there's enough to warrant charges.

"Generally speaking, in large files, there's always a lot of to-and-fro with police, and it's not unusual for us to request further investigation in other areas," Lowe said. "The bottom line is it's just a very, very large file and a very long and complex investigation.

"There's so much information and so many complaints, we have to make sure we look at all potential charges that could occur under the criminal code and then apply our charge assessment standard to see what does meet it and what doesn't meet it."

Former clients and creditors claim Thow, a former senior vice-president with Berkshire Investment Group, bilked them out of more than $32 million by convincing them to invest in schemes that ranged from a Jamaican bank investment to loans for Vancouver developers and seed shares with his former employer.

A B.C. Securities Commission hearing last fall traced $6 million of those losses, and found Thow never made investments and used the money to pay for his lavish lifestyle.

The commission concluded that Thow's actions represented "one of the most callous and audacious frauds this province has seen" and fined him a record $6 million and banned him for life from the province's capital markets.

In December, the Mutual Fund Dealers Association reached an agreement with Berkshire over the Thow affair that will see his former company pay a $500,000 fine and $50,000 in costs because it failed to take reasonable supervisory and disciplinary measures to deal with complaints.

But Thow's former clients have long said what they are waiting for is for him to face criminal charges.

Acting Sgt. Sammy Wu of the RCMP's Integrated Market Enforcement Team said the timing of charges, should there be any, is up to the Crown.

"We are working with them and we follow up any requests they make, but the Crown has to take their time to review the file properly," he said.

"There's not anything we can do prior to Crown making that decision."

Wu would not say if the RCMP are currently watching Thow, who fled Victoria and has been living in Seattle since the summer of 2005.

Thow also has to deal with the receiver appointed to deal with his Canadian bankruptcy.

Michael Cheevers is still waiting for a second interview with Thow about how he's living, his sources of income and where his assets are located.

Cheevers said it's not unusual for the process to slow down at this point.

"Things can slow down ... you get to what I call the litigation stage and things get slower and slower as they get more and more important," he said.

aduffy@tc.canwest.com

see: 

Ian Thow takes flight