Andrew A. Duffy
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Thrifty Foods chairman Alex Campbell Sr. invested millions of dollars with
Berkshire Investment Group through former investment adviser Ian Thow over
Now the patriarch of the Campbell family and the man who built the Thrifty
Foods brand into an icon is concerned about the state of his portfolio.
"There are more questions than answers right now," said Ted Hanman,
Campbell's legal representative, who wonders whether Campbell is facing
Thow, who left Berkshire in June, is facing about 30 legal actions
totalling $30 million brought by former clients, building owners and
Campbell is awaiting a response from Berkshire as to where his portfolio
stands. "We're looking for answers," said Hanman.
They're not alone. The cavalcade of legal activity was triggered by four
separate lawsuits naming Thow and Berkshire and revolving around an
investment scheme in the National Commercial Bank of Jamaica.
According to writs filed in B.C. Supreme Court and the Court of Queen's
Bench of Alberta, the suits stem from a scheme where clients wrote cheques
to Thow's numbered company to purchase shares in the National Commercial
Bank of Jamaica to be held in trust.
Those court documents allege Thow told his clients their investments were
soaring, but when the clients demanded their money, they received either a
small fraction of the investment or nothing at all.
In an affidavit, Thow denied advising the Goodwin family of Richmond --
one of four parties suing over the investment -- to enter such a scheme.
More lawsuits are believed to be pending.
Two were recently filed in Victoria -- Victoria resident Tom Vickers is
suing Thow to recover a $100,000 loan he made to him in March of this
year, and Coast Capital Savings has filed suit to declare a $577,000
mortgage in default.
Those parties will likely be added to a long list of creditors who will be
all ears for a B.C. Supreme Court decision Thursday morning. The court is
expected to decide if Thow will be put into bankruptcy by creditors or
will do so under his own terms.
Creditors want Thow put into bankruptcy immediately and a trustee of their
choice appointed receiver.
Last Thursday, Thow filed notice of his intention to make a proposal to
his creditors under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.
Katherine Ducey, legal counsel for the Goodwin family, which is suing Thow
for $1.05 million over the Jamaican bank investment, said creditors
typically choose the trustee in such cases.
Calls to Rod Anderson, Thow's legal representative in Vancouver, were not
returned. Calls to Berkshire's head office in Burlington, Ont., were also
That came as no surprise to Brad Goodwin.
"Where is Berkshire in all this? They are taking out ads to distance
themselves from their clients, but we haven't heard from them," he said.
"[Thow] was their representative."
In previous interviews, Berkshire officials have said the company is
investigating what it called Thow's outside business activities.