U.S. returns Ian Thow to Canada

Former financial adviser Ian Thow arrived back on Canadian soil Monday and is set to appear in provincial court in downtown Vancouver Tuesday to face 25 charges of fraud over $5,000.

U.S. marshals handed over the former Saanich Peninsula resident, who once lived a lavish lifestyle here, at the Peace Arch border crossing on the Lower Mainland.

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The RCMP’s primary investigator in the case, Sgt. Nancy Birbeck, was at the Peace Arch to arrest Thow on outstanding warrants from Canada and take him into custody, said RCMP Acting Sgt. Sammy Wu, of the Vancouver Integrated Market Enforcement Team.

“We are very delighted to have him back,” Wu said. “It’s a case that we have devoted a lot of time and a lot of resources and manpower to.”

The RCMP worked with the FBI and U.S. marshals, Wu said. “Only through this co-operation were we able to achieve what we wanted to achieve here.”

Thow, 47, was driven to the Surrey Pretrial Services Centre to wait for his court appearance.

In 2005, Thow fled Victoria to Seattle. Last year, the 25 fraud charges were laid in Canada against Thow following allegations he bilked clients of more than $32 million.

After the laying of charges, authorities couldn’t find Thow.

On Feb. 17, members of the U.S. Marshals’ Fugitive Task Force tracked him down at a condominium in a trendy area of Portland, Ore.

Thow waived his right to an extradition hearing when he appeared in court in Seattle last week.

At the border, Birbeck placed Thow under arrest and handcuffed him, like any other arrest, Wu said. An opportunity would have been available for Thow to contact a lawyer but Wu could not say if that happened. Rod Anderson, Thow’s Vancouver lawyer, had no comment.

Thow will be in what is called first-appearance court Tuesday, said criminal justice branch communications counsel Neil Mackenzie. “The question of his bail will have to be dealt with at some point in his initial appearances,” said Mackenzie. “I would prefer not to discuss our position before it is articulated in court, just out of deference to the court.”

When contacted with the news that Thow had been turned over to Canadian authorities, Shirley Garwood responded with a “hooray” over the telephone. “You’ve just made our day.”

Garwood, 70, and sister Helena Kells, 82, said Thow fleeced them of $400,000, a loss that forced the sisters to take out a mortgage on their home. They are scrimping by on small pensions, paying only the interest on their debt.

“I just wish they would bring him here to Victoria [to stand trial],” said Garwood, who cares for her sister in their Saanich Peninsula home.

Ron Black, a retiree who has suffered several health issues since Thow allegedly cheated him of nearly $800,000, has long given up on getting the money back. But he is reassured knowing Thow is in custody.

“My doctor told me, ‘Ron, you’ve been through hell. You’re best now to put it out of your mind and get on with the rest of your life, or what’s left of it.’

“I’ve accepted the fact I’m not getting my money back. It was just a matter of getting him, and now locking him up.”

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