Andrew A. Duffy
Thursday, August 11, 2005
In an effort to reassure clients amid growing publicity over the Ian Thow
bankruptcy case, Berkshire Securities chairman Michael Lee- Chin has sent
a letter urging investors to trust in the company.
The two-page letter, sent to clients by their Berkshire advisors last
week, makes no mention of Thow, a former senior investment adviser, but
reminds investors how transactions with the company ought to take place.
Lee-Chin also explains Berkshire clients should be getting detailed
confirmation of all transactions and regular statements detailing activity
on their accounts.
Thow, who left the company at the end of May, faces a number of lawsuits
stemming from an investment scheme involving the National Commercial Bank
Clients involved in the scheme allegedly wrote cheques to Thow or his
company to purchase shares on their behalf, with little or no
Some of those lawsuits name Berkshire as a co-defendant. The National
Commercial Bank of Jamaica is 75 per cent owned by AIC Ltd., the parent
company of Berkshire.
In response to an interview request, Frank Laferriere, chief operating
officer for Berkshire Investment Group, faxed a statement to the Times
Colonist reiterating that Berkshire was neither involved in nor aware of
the alleged transactions attributed to Thow.
Laferriere said Thow was not licensed or authorized to sell shares in the
National Commercial Bank of Jamaica and had no business relationship with
Lee-Chin in relation to the bank.
"There was never any 'limited opportunity available only to Berkshire
clients' to purchase NCB shares as has been alleged," wrote Laferriere. "NCB's
shares are publicly traded through the Jamaica Stock Exchange. Investors
may purchase these shares through a duly licensed broker in Jamaica.
"We are also not aware of any NCB shares being owned by Mr. Thow at any
Laferriere also said that cheques should never be made payable to an
individual such as a financial adviser.
"Client cheques payable to Berkshire are credited to and reflected on the
client's official Berkshire account statements," he wrote. "On those
account statements, clients are asked to notify Berkshire's head office if
there are any discrepancies. None of Mr. Thow's clients notified
Berkshire's head office of any discrepancies regarding cash deposits [cheques]
to their accounts."
Attempts to contact Thow through his Vancouver-based lawyer Rod Anderson
Thow has filed a notice of his intention to make a proposal to his
creditors -- more than 50 individuals, banks and companies claiming nearly
$30 million -- under the Bankruptcy Act.