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Embattled investment adviser surfaces in Seattle
After fleeing Victoria, Ian Thow now faces bankruptcy hearing in U.S.

Carla Wilson

Friday, September 16, 2005

Former Victoria investment adviser Ian Thow has surfaced in Seattle, where he appears to be living after crossing the border last week. A televised news report from Seattle on Thursday showed Thow, who is under RCMP investigation for possible securities fraud, saying media reports have been unfair and that he has been told not to comment.

Vancouver lawyer Katherine Ducey, who represents Richmond's Goodwin family, which has a claim against Thow, said the U.S. bankruptcy trustee is working on arranging a creditors' meeting. It is scheduled to be held on Oct. 13 at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Seattle.

"If the meeting happens, I expect we will attend," she said Thursday.

The notice sent to creditors said that the creditors and the trustee will be able to examine Thow under oath, Ducey said.

Daniel Forsch, bankruptcy trustee in Edmonds, Wash., could not be reached Thursday. Ducey said he is looking into jurisdictional issues between Canada and the U.S.

Trustees have been appointed in both Canada and Washington state to deal with the financial issues surrounding the flamboyant Thow, who failed to show up in Victoria Monday for a scheduled meeting to propose a way to settle his debts. An unidentified backer also did not appear to offer $5 million in support.

Total unsecured claims against Thow in Canada amounted to $32 million as of Monday.

Vancouver trustee Michael Cheevers said that the only major asset to deal with liabilities is Thow's Saanich Peninsula waterfront home, which has only $1.5 million to $2 million in equity.

Thow filed for bankruptcy in Washington state last week. He crossed the border into the U.S. early on Sept. 8. A warrant for his arrest under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act has been issued in Canada but it is not an extraditable offence.

Richmond creditor Brad Goodwin, Ducey's client, is not planning to go to Seattle next month for Thow's creditors' meeting. "I don't think he will show up," he said.

Documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court include many creditors from Canada. The total liability for Thow listed in the U.S. court stands at $19.24 million. Of that, $4.8 million is described as secured.

Most of the 118 creditors listed in the U.S. documents are classified as unsecured, with many claim amounts still "unknown."

Thow is not listed in Seattle's telephone directory. His lawyer did not return calls on Thursday. A court document states his address as 215 First Ave. W., a seven-storey, 102-unit apartment building called Metro on First.

Chris Gerhardt, building property manager, said information is not given out on tenants. He would not say whether Thow is a renter.

The four-year-old building is north of downtown and close to the water, Gerhardt said. A couple of two-bedroom apartments are available, with rent ranging from $1,750 per month for an 855 square-foot-unit to $1,895 for a 1,040-square-foot unit.

Meanwhile, in Victoria, Susan Grennier, co-owner of Parsonage Cafe on North Park Street, which has a claim of $100,000 against Thow, is hoping her husband Rob will attend the creditors' meeting in Washington.

The couple had invested with Thow for 15 years, she said. "We considered him a friend."

Grennier said they live middle-class lives and have worked long hours. "It took us years and years and years to save that money."

Retired View Royal couple Irving and Joyce Lozier, have a claim of $325,000 against Thow. Irving Lozier, 85, said their money had been in mutual funds.

Lozier, who taught for 35 years, is trying to take a positive approach. "We can still live. That is about all that counts." He is optimistic that some of the money will be recovered.

Reef Condominium Development Ltd. is claiming $522,728. Thow bought a couple of condominiums, including one commercial unit, said developer A. Fraser McColl, a principal in the James Bay project. The Reef company helped finance part of the purchase price.
 

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Ian Thow takes flight