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Berkshire response disappoints creditors

Andrew A.Duffy

December 08, 2005

E-mail tells meeting the company is working on report

Clients and creditors of former Berkshire Investment Group adviser Ian Thow didn't get the interim report they were expecting from Berkshire Wednesday.

Instead, the 30 creditors, who were meeting at a local hotel, received a two-paragraph e-mail promising the company was still working on it and would be moving forward "as quickly and efficiently as possible."

Berkshire originally promised creditors the report -- which the company hoped would be the start of rebuilding trust between clients and the firm -- would be delivered Dec. 2.

"We were disappointed it wasn't a little more than this," said Andrea Racicot, spokeswoman for the group and one of 73 unsecured creditors claiming more than $32 million from Thow. "I can appreciate that it takes time to go through [the interviews and documents] individually. In fact, I was more disappointed they didn't correspond with us on Dec. 2 as they said."

The group was also concerned Berkshire's e-mailed message didn't contain any kind of timeline as to when a report and a resolution may be expected.

The note written by Julie Clarke, Berkshire Securities' senior counsel, said only that the company was still working on the file.

"As a result of our meetings, we have come away with a great deal of information and documentation to review and consider. We assure you that we understand the sense of urgency with which you want and expect Berkshire to respond to you," she wrote. "We are meeting internally and with our insurers with respect to each one of your particular situations.

"As you can appreciate, fraud investigations take time. However, Berkshire remains committed to continuing its review of these matters and moving towards a resolution as quickly and efficiently as possible."

Racicot remained optimistic there could be a resolution before Christmas, though she admitted that optimism was based on what she had heard about Berkshire founder Michael Lee-Chin.

"You hear a lot of talk that Michael Lee-Chin is an honourable man and has done a a lot of good works so that I guess helps with the optimism," she said. "There's nothing to suggest that they will [come through before Christmas], but given the season and what you hear about the type of person Lee-Chin is I would not be surprised to see something happen."

The group's disappointment over a lack of action so far, however, is not likely to turn into apathy and dejection.

"I don't think this group is going to throw up its hands, there's an interesting bond developing within the group," Racicot said, noting their resolve to see it through has galvanized over the course of the last six months.

The group of creditors intends to meet again Jan. 10.

aduffy@tc.canwest.com

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Ian Thow takes flight