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Investment adviser left 'bad taste'

 

Andrew A. Duffy
 

Friday, July 01, 2005

Three separate groups have filed suits against Thow and Berkshire

There's a bad taste in Brad Goodwin's mouth.

As he now looks back on his dealings with Victoria-based investment adviser Ian Thow, Goodwin says after a while things just didn't add up and didn't feel right.

"I feel cheated, and betrayed," Goodwin said during a phone interview from his home in Richmond. "I felt he really wanted to help us out."

Goodwin and his family are one of three groups that have filed suit against Thow and the Berkshire Investment Group. Thow resigned from his position with Berkshire Investment Group effective June 1.

In their statement of claim the Goodwin family -- Brad's wife Gina, brother Daryl and parents Don and Anna -- are suing for at least $1.5 million as a result of having invested just under $2.5 million with Thow since 2003.

According to the writ of summons, the Goodwins claim Thow advised them to invest in the National Commercial Bank of Jamaica.

The claim states: "In order to participate in the investment, Thow advised that the funds must be transferred to him personally or to his holding company, AYG, and he would purchase the shares to be held in trust on behalf of the plaintiffs."

From April 2003 until March 11, 2004 the Goodwins invested $2.498 million.

The writ of summons adds: "The funds invested in the investment scheme have earned a substantial profit, particulars of which are known to the defendants but not the plaintiffs."

Goodwin says the family has attempted to recoup their investment and accrued profits, but to date are still owed $1.052 million and accrued profits.

Brad Goodwin, a commercial pilot with West Coast Air who is now on medical leave, recalls he met Thow at a flight school.

Brad's brother Daryl, now a pilot with Air Canada Jazz, and Thow knew each other from flight school and had asked Brad for tips and help in learning to fly.

Years later the Goodwins were invited to join Thow at a Berkshire event that featured a meeting with founder Michael Lee-Chin.

"It was the whole package, it was impressive," said Brad of the setup and the reason they bought into Thow's advice. "There was everything, I mean impressive wealth everywhere, and you got the sense he really wanted you to be a part of something."

They weren't the only ones.

A suit has also been filed by Derek and Leslie Stimson and Derek Stimson Holdings of Coaldale, Alta. for the recovery of $200,000 US - - once again given to Thow through his holding company (657594 B.C. Ltd.) to be invested in the National Commercial Bank of Jamaica.

According to the statement of claim: "The funds invested by the plaintiffs have earned a substantial profit, the particulars of which are known to the defendant but not to the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs have repeatedly sought to recover their investment from Thow and were consistently promised repayment but the same has not been forthcoming."

"I blame myself, but I don't, I thought I was dealing with Berkshire. If he wasn't a bonded agent with Berkshire I wouldn't have given him one dime," said Stimson in a phone interview.

Nanaimo businessman George Thomson has also filed a suit against Thow and Berkshire.

Again the suit revolves around money owed because of an investment made in the National Commercial bank of Jamaica.

According to the filing, "The plaintiff made a series of payments to the defendant Thow commencing Sept. 14, 2003 through May 4, 2004 in the total amount of $736,000."

It further states: "The plaintiff says the defendants have returned to him the sum of $50,000, but they have refused and neglected and continue to refuse and neglect to pay the balance of the funds or any portion thereof."

Thomson is seeking $686,000 as well as an accounting of the investment.

Calls to Thow's lawyer in Vancouver were not returned before press time Thursday, neither were calls to Berkshire's head office in Burlington, Ont.

aduffy@tc.canwest.com