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KPMG To Make Further Portus Distribution

by Carla Johnson, Investors, London

21 December 2007

KPMG, receivers for collapsed hedge fund Portus Alternative Asset Management, asked a Canadian court this week for permission to distribute $12.5m of cash from one of the firm's sub-funds to the 300 investors who participated in it.

KPMG made an interim payment of $120m to than 16,000 unsecured Portus clients, representing about 15% of the total $800m that Portus collected. The receiver has said it expects clients to receive back up to 85% of their investments.

The founders of Portus, Boaz Manor and Michael Mendelson, were charged with fraud in Toronto in October. Mendelson appeared in a Toronto court and an arrest warrant was issued for Manor, who fled Canada for Israel when his hedge fund firm collapsed in 2005.

After intricate negotiations, Manor returned to Canada in November accompanied by a KPMG representative. He was arrested by the RCMP and taken into custody on charges of fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice. He is now free on bail against a surety of C$500,000 from his parents. According to court filings, Manor unsuccessfully attempted to transfer $35 million from Caribbean banks to Europe. About $10m of cash remains missing, plus $8.8m worth of diamonds that have been the subject of Israeli and Hong Kong court action.

The police investigation of Portus, in parallel with work by liquidators KPMG, involved enquiries in Austria, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Italy, Jersey, Panama, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Switzerland and the UK.

KPMG said last summer that about $662.15 million (Canadian) and about $37.2 million (US) of Portus assets have been found and secured in 130 bank and investment accounts in Canada, the Turks and Caicos and the Cayman Islands. The majority of Portus assets remain tied up in notes issued by France's Société Générale which were purchased for $529m, and mature between 2008 and 2011. KPMG is asking the bank whether some of those notes can be redeemed before their maturity dates.

Manor and Mandelseon had previously been charged by the Ontario Securities Commission with failing to act in good faith with clients. Mendelson was also charged with unregistered trading and issuing securities without filing a prospectus. The maximum penalties are C$5 million and five years in jail.

Earlier this year, KPMG filed suit in an Ontario court against Montreal lawyer Anthony Malcolm, alleging that he helped Portus founder Boaz Manor to siphon off assets through offshore accounts both before and after the fund collapsed.

"There was no legitimate business purpose for the creation or use of these accounts," said KPMG in the suit, which asks for damages of C$25m. Accounts were set up in the Cayman Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and in Switzerland.

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