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Fugitive former accountant faces more charges in Australia

Victims in Queensland band together

Tags: Hofman Case Investigation

CAIRNS, Australia - The fugitive former accountant from Canada, Fred Siebolt Hofman, has been extradited in Australia to Cairns, Queensland, to be charged with one count of “engaging in dishonest conduct in relation to the provision of a financial service.” Hofman who worked under the assumed name of Piet Cornelius Walters, in recent months lived in an opulent Tasmania mansion while many of a large group of Queensland investors saw their lives disintegrate due to financial losses. The group is banding together to see justice done.

“Walters” abandoned his farm house in Queensland when the Australian Securities and Investments Com-mission (ASIC) commenced an investigation of his Drury Management Pty Ltd., a financial services and ac-counting firm with locations in Melanda, Cairns, and Atherthon. ASIC alleges that “Walters” operated an un-registered, self-managed superannuation fund, and the subsequent unauthorized investment of the fund’s assets with Drury. The amount involved is about Can$10 million. The criminal charge follows earlier civil action taken by ASIC against ‘Walters’ in September 2002. He was arrested by the Australians on account of immigration irregularities, April 2, 2003.

In Canada, the RCMP some years ago laid over 30 charges of fraud and over 30 charges of theft against Hofman, also involving about $10 million although the amounts absconded - if statements of claims in court can be used as a yardstick - were significantly larger. Hof-man since had been on the RCMP’s Most Wanted list.

Timely payments

Hofman who had no farming experience in Canada, also placed cattle in care for a fee with area farmers. According to one farmer “Walters” always paid his bills on time, making it for many difficult to understand that ASIC would appoint a receiver for Drury. To them, at first, ASIC was the cause for “Walters” no longer paying his bills.

Chairman Trevor Lawrence of Drury’s Investors Action Group says his group continues to draw more victims to its meetings and includes people from all walks of life. While Lawrence has no details of the individual claims against “Walters,” in conversations and in statements at the meetings he has heard people talk about amounts ranging between Aus$10,000 and $700,000. There already are indications of severe hardship among the victims, including business closures.