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Dutch Canadian fugitive former accountant Hofman jailed in Australia

Australian court-appointed receiver also looking for millions

Tags: Hofman Case Investigation

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Former accountant and investment advisor Fred S. Hofman who - owing tens of millions of dollars - disappeared from Canada without a trace twelve years ago, recently was jailed in Australia after a court-appointed Queensland receiver followed the paper trail of a $3 million transaction to Vancouver. Hofman, in Australia known as Pieter Cornelius Walters, allegedly invested funds with a junior brokerage firm in Vancouver with ties to his eldest son. When comparing notes the Australians and their Vancouver contacts pulled up the RCMP ‘Most Wanted’ website to look at Hofman’s picture which was the same as that of Walters. Hofman eventually was charged with over 30 counts each of fraud and theft, covering a total of about $10 million.

A September 30, 2002 news release of the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) announcing the appointment of an interim receiver, Ian D. Jessup, notes that ‘Walters’ was a securities representative for ABN Amro Morgens from August 30, 1999 to June 28, 2002, when he was terminated as ‘a proper authority holder’ from the Dutch-owned Australian subsidiary. ‘Walters’ and his business partner Mark Samuel Evans carried on “the business of providing financial advice and dealing in securities, even though they did not hold a licence to do so.”

The ASIC alleges that ‘Walters’ and Evans and their firm Drury Management Pty Ltd had obtained loans to from approximately 118 clients, to invest on their behalf. The loans totaled nearly Aus$8 million, and guaranteed returns of up to 13.5 per cent, all unsecured. ‘Walters’ and Evans were ordered to surrender their passports and received an interim injunction restraining them from further operating the scheme, receiving or soliciting funds, removing any assets from Australia, or disposing them.

Money trail

Receiver Jessup discovered that about $3 million of the missing funds had been transfered to Vancouver, Canada, to accounts of which Pan Atlas Financial Group allegedly is one. Much of the money had been used to buy shares in companies ‘of low quality’. The value of these investments now is virtually worthless.

Local investigator David Gray soon learned that the Vancouver company is headed by a Raymond Hofman, the son of ‘Walters’. It was not the only contact between the two men. When comparing notes, Jessup and Grey also concluded that Hofman Jr. earlier had attended (possibly the 65th) birthday party of ‘Walters’. Fred S. Hofman was born April 12, 1937 in Veenwouden, and in 1991 was still a Dutch citizen. ‘Walters’ earlier this month was arrested in Tasmania where he owned a mansion.

Family ties

In 1991, Hofman also had a daughter living in Australia. Several people who are on Hofman’s list of Canadian victims then often wondered about Hofman’s whereabouts and suspected he had gone to the vicinity where his daughter lived.

In Queensland, ‘Walters’ operated a three-office accounting practice. The first one is at the Eastern Australia coastal community of Cairns (Queensland), the two others are inland, in Malanda and Atherton (also in Queensland). The so-called investment money was raised particularly in the Atherton vicinity.

In Canada, Hofman for years operated as an accountant, was active on the Vancouver stock market and took in investment funds in a range of schemes, often with scant or no documentation. Clients sued Hofman and his companies Braman Management Ltd. and Juliana In-vestments Ltd. for over $20 million but the actual losses are thought to be far greater. Since Hofman had gained loyalty and trust from many of his often elderly clients, his disappearance in 1991 was all the more devastating to these victims. Many have died since while some retirees were forced to abandon their retirement plans or return to work.