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Police open file on investment adviser


Louise Dickson

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

No funds received for police foundation co-created by Thow, chief says. 'If anybody did contribute ... they should contact us'

Victoria Police Chief Paul Battershill turned down offers to fly to Jamaica and Las Vegas with high-flying Victoria investment adviser Ian Thow two years ago.

"I didn't feel it was appropriate. It was a little fast for a slow guy like me," Battershill told reporters Monday at his weekly media briefing.

The former investment adviser with the Berkshire Investment Group is being investigated by the company for his outside business activities. He is also a defendant in a series of lawsuits concerning the National Commercial Bank of Jamaica.

Victoria police officers have opened a file on Thow and investigators have been in touch with the RCMP's integrated market enforcement team and the B.C. Securities Commission, which has launched a formal investigation. Because the issues are complex, the case could proceed through the courts or the commission.

The police chief acknowledged that Greater Victoria police departments -- like the Royal Roads University Foundation and the Greater Victoria Hospital Foundation -- were disappointed that funds Thow expected to help raise were not forthcoming.

In 1997, Thow raised $125,000 from local businesses to buy a police boat. Then in June 2001, Thow and two others -- Victoria accountant Randy Decksheimer and former deputy police chief Doug Potentier -- set up the Greater Victoria Police Foundation. It was created to raise funds for such things as uniforms for the Greater Victoria police pipe band.

In April 2003, Victoria police held a press conference to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the boat. Thow's work as a fundraiser was honoured by Battershill, who gave him a plaque. The event was also used to announce the creation of the foundation and it was reported that Thow had already raised $2 million from 25 local donors.

Records show the foundation has no funds or assets.

Battershill, who hasn't talked to Thow for a couple of years, said he had no idea why the promised funds never materialized. He doesn't think any funds were raised that weren't reported.

"I don't think that occurred," said the chief. "Certainly, we'd be really concerned if it had. If anybody did contribute to the Greater Victoria Police Foundation, they should contact us."

Battershill said he didn't invest any money with Thow. He described Thow's high-flying offers as "odd."

"If I had flown off to Jamaica on a trip, I think people should be concerned about that."

The Victoria Police Department wants to resurrect the foundation, moving it within the department.

"Our hope is to resurrect it and, at some point, get funding for it," said Battershill. "For this region, a foundation would be a really good thing."