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Fugitive Vancouver accountant nets eight years in jail ’down under’

Australian jury convicts Walters/Hofman on all counts

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

CAIRNS, Australia – The Cairns District Court has sentenced a 71-year old Dutch Canadian to an eight-year prison term following his conviction by a jury. Dutch national Piet Cornelius Walters, in Canada and the Netherlands known as Fred Siebold Hofman, was found guilty of all 13 charges of dishonestly obtaining an advantage as a director of Drury Management Pty Ltd. and one of dishonestly causing a detriment, between September 1999 and August 2002.

The erstwhile West Vancouver resident and former Certified General Accountant who disappeared from Canada following the collapse of his Ponzi scheme in 1991, purchased an accountants practice in Australia and obtained a provisional agent’s license from ABN Amro Morgans Ltd. so he could assist clients with their superannuation funds. When the Dutch-owned Australian subsidiary withdrew this license in June 2002 over his failure to take regulatory exams, Walters/Hofman already had raised and lavishly spent about AUS$10 million.

The court heard, among others, that Walters’ Drury investment trust account was in the red from the beginning, that Drury invested in securities not approved by ABN Amro Morgans and that regular withdrawals were made to support.

Walters’/Hofman’s lifestyle.

A forensic accountant employed by a government agency when asked about expenses of $1,590,328.09, told the court he had concluded that the money was used for private gain and not for the investments on behalf of clients.

The substantial sum of payments was broken down into five categories including motor vehicle acquisitions (a Jaguar and a Volvo, $221,600), the purchase of a mansion in distant Tasmania ($768,000), transfers to Ransom House (an art gallery business owned by new wife Virginia Ransom, about $325,400), and credit card payments (about $385,000). The court also was told that millions had disappeared to Canada.

A forensic accountant found that a money trail led to Canada where an auditor was hired whose suspicion soon confirmed that Walters and Hofman were one and the same, as the money trail allegedly led to a firm which employed one of Hofman’s sons. At the time, the discovery received wide publicity in British Columbia and put to rest ongoing wild speculation among allegedly defrauded (Dutch-)Canadian investors about Hofman’s fate. No one knows exactly how much money was placed with Hofman before his disappearance but private claims before the court alone totaled over $20 million while numerous others did not commence legal action for a number of reasons.

The Cairns District Court heard from ten witnesses who were questioned about their investments, all people who entrusted Walters/Hofman with their superannuation funds or other nest eggs for retirement years. Most assumed Drury was a trustworthy dealer because of its association with ABN Amro Morgans Ltd. Drury associates also steered clients towards Walters/Hofman, just as had happened in Canada and the Netherlands some years earlier.