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Counselling ordered for Thow

Andrew A.Duffy

July 18, 2006

Local creditors head to Seattle courthouse in an attempt to question former financial adviser

Former Victoria investment adviser Ian Thow will have to undergo drug and alcohol counselling, domestic-violence counselling and comply with a no-contact order under terms of a plea agreement reached Monday.

According to Seattle municipal court documents, the City of Seattle has agreed to suspend prosecution of the former vice- president of Berkshire Investment Group on domestic-violence charges if Thow complies with the counselling and no-contact conditions, has no criminal violations and owns no weapons for two years.

Thow will have to provide evidence of his compliance to Seattle probation services.

He agreed to the deal following his arrest two weeks ago on domestic-violence charges in Seattle. Thow was charged on July 2 with assault, interfering with reporting domestic violence, and harassment.

He has been living in Seattle with his wife, Alyssa Fritz, after fleeing Victoria and a high-profile bankruptcy that left 73 former clients and unsecured creditors claiming he owed them in excess of $32 million.

Some of the creditors received partial compensation from Berkshire, after the company suggested they enter into mediation. Fifteen settlements were reached involving 26 of Thow's former clients. Neither side will disclose details because of a confidentiality agreement.

Though the RCMP are investigating Thow, he has not been charged with any criminal offences stemming from the accusations against him from former clients.

However, those creditors have plenty of unanswered questions, some of which may have been answered Monday for the handful of creditors who made the trip to confront Thow in Seattle.

"I'm glad I came down here, just to see the guy. For a year I've been hearing rumours about where Thow was and what he's doing. Well, today I saw him, he's still out there," said Brad Goodwin, whose family claims to have lost more than $1.4 million.

"My gut reaction when I saw him today was nothing has changed, this guy is living the high life, it hasn't stopped."

Goodwin characterized Thow's courtroom demeanor Monday as arrogant, and pointed out it sure doesn't look like he was cash- strapped as Thow had claimed when interviewed by the Times Colonist last fall.

"He wouldn't give us eye contact," said Goodwin, noting attempts to talk with Thow were rebuffed by his lawyer. He said Thow was dressed impeccably and that Fritz, who showed up briefly for the hearing, was also dressed to the nines.

Goodwin said seeing Thow Monday steeled his resolve to see through the process of getting some kind of justice, both by pursuing Berkshire for compensation and pushing for criminal charges to be laid against Thow.

Thow's former clients meet regularly to discuss, among other things, the impact the loss of millions has had on them and the fate of the money they believed he had invested for them in everything from a Jamaican bank to loans for Vancouver developers and shares in Berkshire.



Ian Thow takes flight