column acres have been plowed covering the woes of financier Ian Thow
who is facing investigations by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and
the British Columbia Securities Commission concerning his investment
activities. According to lawsuits filed against Mr. Thow, the former
Investment Group Inc.
executive vice-president allegedly failed to
account for more than $1 million in investor funds. So far, this
sorrowful Howe Street story hasn't attracted much attention from
Government Street. But Public Eye readers may be interested to know, for
the record, that a search of the corporate registry has revealed three
of Mr. Thow's companies list their registered and records office as
being at 420-880 Douglas Street - the law offices of
McConnan, Bion, O'Connor, Peterson
That firm is notable among politicos for being home to prominent federal
Liberal backroom boy and fundraiser Michael "Benji" O'Connor
O'Connor was also chair of the Greater
Victoria Hospitals Foundation
's Together We Care campaign, which
accepted a $500,000 pledge from Mr. Thow that was never met. So Public
Eye telephoned Mr. O'Connor to ask him about what relationship, if any,
he had with Mr. Thow. The following is an edited transcript of that
Public Eye Mike, I was taking a look through Ian
Thow's companies and a noticed M600 Holdings Ltd., 657594 B.C. Ltd. -
which is a holding company - and Thow Financial Planning Corp. have
their registered office being your office. And I'm just wondering what's
up with that?
Mr. O'Connor Well, as you know, companies in British Columbia
have to have a registered and records office. And we were the registered
office for some of those companies. We're no longer the registered
office. Those are being handled by Harper, Grey in Vancouver.
Public Eye When did that changeover happen?
Mr. O'Connor That's been in process for the past week.
Public Eye And what's the reason for the changeover?
Mr. O'Connor All of Mr. Thow's legal work is being done by
Harper, Grey. I'm not involved at all.
Public Eye Right. So was Ian's previous legal work done by
Mr. O'Connor We were the registered and records office for his
companies. We're not handling any of his legal work.
Public Eye Were you handling any of his work previously?
Mr. O'Connor The registered office was what we were.
Public Eye Any other work?
Mr. O'Connor That's all gone to Vancouver too.
Public Eye Any other work?
Mr. O'Connor I'm not acting for Ian Thow in any capacity.
Public Eye Okay. The other thing I noticed is that you were
involved with the Victoria Hospitals Foundation with regards to the
Together We Care Campaign.
Mr. O'Connor That's right.
Public Eye I'm just wondering whether you were the person that
solicited the donation from Ian?
Mr. O'Connor No.
Public Eye And did you have any relationship with Ian at all?
Mr. O'Connor Well, the fact was he had made a pledge to the
hospital foundation. And that was my involvement with him.
Public Eye And that was the extent of your involvement with
him? The pledge and...?
Mr. O'Connor I was chair of the campaign to raise $17 million.
Public Eye And so the extent of your involvement with him was
limited to the campaign and (your firm) being the registered and records
office for his companies.
Mr. O'Connor Well, this law firm was the registered and
records office for those companies. And that's all been transferred out.
And, with respect to the campaign, there was a pledge made. And,
obviously, as chair of the campaign, I dealt with Ian in that regard.
Public Eye So did you have any other dealings with him at a
personal or business level?
Mr. O'Connor No. In terms of those two things, that was it.
Public Eye In terms of anything else?
Mr. O'Connor I don't have any further comment on anything. I
think I made it clear that we were the registered and records office for
those companies. We transferred those to Vancouver. And, in my role as
chair of the Together We Care campaign, I dealt with thousands of donors
quite frankly. Obviously, there were literally thousands of donors from
modest gifts to larger gifts. But obviously, in order to make a campaign
like that work, you've got to have thousands of gifts to make that goal
- especially (in a city) the size of Victoria.
Posted by Sean Holman at 05:17 PM