Friday, July 29, 2005
Thrifty Foods chairman Alex Campbell has added his name to the list of
creditors claiming to be owed a total of almost $42 million by Victoria
investment adviser Ian Thow.
The development emerged Thursday when B.C. Supreme Court Justice Grant
Burnyeat appointed Wolrige Mahon Ltd. as a receiver to allow Thow to
organize his financial affairs.
Ted Hanman, a lawyer for Campbell, filed an affidavit claiming about $4
million owed to the grocery store magnate from investments made with
Berkshire Investment Group through Thow, said Vancouver lawyer Katherine
Ducey is acting for another group of creditors, the Goodwin family of
Richmond, which is claiming more than $1 million from Thow.
More than a dozen lawyers appeared in a Vancouver courtroom to represent
some of the 58 companies and individuals claiming money from the
investment adviser, who left Berkshire on May 31.
Thow and the company he once represented are also facing four lawsuits
from investors in a scheme involving the National Commercial Bank of
The high-flying broker owns four planes, a helicopter, several flashy
cars, a waterfront mansion in rural Saanich and a penthouse apartment in
The Reef, a Victoria condo building, among other assets, valued in excess
of $20 million. Those assets have been frozen by a judicial order, while a
19-metre yacht Thow once owned was seized by M & P Mercury Sales.
Apart from the house, in which he is believed to have equity, all the
trappings of a successful jet-setter were financed through loans that have
been called by various financial institutions.
Lawyers for the creditors had hoped Thursday to put Thow into bankruptcy
immediately in order to begin recouping some of the money claimed.
But Ducey called the trustee situation "absolutely workable."
What remains in question is how much unsecured creditors will be able to
retrieve at the end of the process.
Secured creditors, such as the banks that lent Thow money for assets that
can be sold, are first in line to receive money, Ducey said.
GE Canada Equipment Financing is the biggest creditor, claiming $15
million that it lent Thow for the purchase of a Bell helicopter, Cessna
Citation plane and a Cessna Bravo plane. The Bank of Nova Scotia provided
a $2.9-million mortgage on Thow's home at 8338 West Saanich Rd., which has
an assessed value of $4.6 million. Other creditors include the developer
of The Reef, where Thow moved his Berkshire office into a lavish suite at
120-21 Erie St. earlier this year.
Apart from Campbell, more than two dozen private investors from Vancouver
Island, the Lower Mainland and Alberta each claim Thow owes them amounts
in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Ducey expects more creditors will come forward. She said claims need to be
filed with the trustee within the next three weeks.
The receiver has 21 days to make a proposal that will be put to creditors
A telephone call to Thow's lawyer, Rod Anderson, was not returned.
Campbell could not be reached.
Representatives of Berkshire Investment Group did not appear at Thursday's