British Columbia

Former Victoria financial adviser Ian Thow faces fraud charges

A former Victoria investment adviser who allegedly bilked dozens of people out of millions of dollars is scheduled to appear in a Vancouver court on Tuesday to face 25 charges of fraud over $5,000.

A former Victoria investment adviser who allegedly bilked dozens of people out of millions of dollars is scheduled to appear in a Vancouver court on Tuesday to face 25 charges of fraud over $5,000.

Ian Gregory Thow, 47, was handed over to Canadian authorities Monday at the Peace Arch border crossing in Surrey, B.C., on Monday.

U.S. marshals arrested Thow last month as he left his Portland, Ore., condominium to go jogging. Last week, he waived his right to an extradition hearing.

Before leaving fleeing Canada in 2005, the former Saanich resident allegedly convinced investors to buy securities that didn't exist and put an estimated $6 million, and possibly as much as $30 million of investors' money, in his personal account to finance a lavish lifestyle.

"A lot of innocent people have been victimized," alleged Acting Sgt. Sammy Wu of the RCMP's Integrated Market Enforcement Team, or IMET.

"Mr. Ian Thow had gone to a different country, but we work in very close co-operation with the U.S. and in this case we were able to have Mr. Thow brought to justice to face these charges," Wu said.

In December 2007, the B.C. Securities Commission imposed its largest-ever fine of $6 million against Thow and banned him from the securities industry after it ruled he used clients' money for luxury cars, a yacht and a personal business jet.

"This case represents one of the most callous and audacious frauds this province has seen," the commission said in imposing the penalty.

Before imposing the sentence, the regulator ruled that Thow, who was senior vice- president of Berkshire Investment Group Inc., took millions from dozens, or perhaps hundreds, of investors in B.C. and Alberta.

Thow's lawyer took the case to the B.C. Court of Appeal, arguing that because his client's contraventions dated back to 1996 the commission only had the right to impose the maximum penalty at the time.

The court overturned the $6-million fine and substituted a penalty of $250,000.

 

now