By David Baines
Friday, September 02, 2005
The mystery party who was allegedly going to
donate $5 million to creditors of former Victoria investment executive Ian
Thow has not materialized and neither has the money, according to
bankruptcy trustee Michael Cheevers.
"As far as I know, there are no signs of the $5 million. I have had
absolutely no contact with anybody who might be a benefactor," Cheevers
said in an interview Thursday.
Thow is a former senior vice-president at mutual fund dealer Berkshire
Investment Group Inc. By all appearances, he was highly successful and
enjoyed a hugely extravagant lifestyle.
However, in May, he suddenly quit the firm, ostensibly for personal
reasons. In ensuing weeks, dozens of creditors accused him of inducing
them to buy investments that had apparently not been authorized by
Berkshire, and appropriating the money for himself.
Last week, Thow filed a statement of affairs showing he has about $2
million worth of assets that are not encumbered, available to help pay off
roughly $13 million in unsecured debt.
To avoid bankruptcy, Thow proposed to turn over these unencumbered assets,
plus $5 million that would be provided by a mystery donor, for
distribution to creditors.
Thow's former lawyer, David Gagnon of Harper Grey Easton, proposed to
reveal the donor's identity to Cheevers so he could confirm that the donor
is arm's-length to Thow, and that the money was not part of some secret
stash that actually belonged to Thow.
"The key is to assure creditors that this is fresh third-party money that
they cannot get any way other than by saying 'yes' to the proposal," he
said at the time.
However, Cheevers said he has not heard anything further about the donor
or the money. Gagnon, meanwhile, said he is no longer acting for Thow, but
declined to say why.
Under Thow's proposal, Thow would retain all his clothing, watches and
jewelry, computers and all household goods and chattels at his waterfront
home in Central Saanich.
Cheevers said he tried several times to gain entry to the house to
determine what goods and chattels were there, and to enable realtors to
show the house to prospective purchasers. However, he said Thow was
uncooperative, so Cheevers obtained a court order this week enabling him
to gain entry.
Asked whether he found anything of value, Cheevers replied: "I don't want
to talk about what we found because we need Mr. Thow to confirm our
Cheevers also went to court to obtain access to Thow's computers. "We want
to review the data [on the computers] to determine whether there is any
useful information that would hint at the existence of any assets and
accounting records," he said.