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Portus boss Manor makes first court appearance

Date: Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Author: ORLY HALPERN - Special to The Globe and Mail

Special to The Globe and Mail

TEL AVIV -- The founder of collapsed investment company Portus Alternative Asset Management Inc. attended a hearing in a Tel Aviv district courthouse yesterday, looking calm and confident in his first proceeding.

Boaz Manor, the 35-year-old co-founder of the troubled firm, had not been seen at any of the court proceedings until now. He fled to Israel from Toronto when his hedge fund company was forced into receivership in late March. Mr. Manor was raised in Israel until 1988 when his family moved to Canada.

Portus's receiver, KPMG Inc., is trying to recover more than $800-million in assets, and has gone to court in Canada and Israel to force Mr. Manor to co-operate. It has alleged that he has moved money through several offshore jurisdictions. And, in the course of unravelling the Portus operations, KPMG has been trying to locate nearly $9-million in diamonds that Mr. Manor allegedly purchased with Portus funds.

His lawyers claimed that he had "mental health problems" and therefore was unfit to answer KPMG's questions. But Judge Shmuel Baruch said earlier this month that Mr. Manor would be jailed if he did not show.

The tall fair-haired Mr. Manor appeared at the courthouse coherent and confident. Dressed casually in a blue oxford shirt, tan slacks and stylish striped sport shoes, he struck a different appearance than the signature dark suit and red tie, which he was known to wear in his Toronto office.

As the hearing began, Mr. Manor's lead lawyer, Roni Berkman, asked that the proceedings take place behind closed doors so that a Globe and Mail reporter would not be able to listen in.

Judge Baruch agreed and the hearing proceeded for more than two hours.

David Tadmor, the KPMG advocate, said afterwards that he would not be able to recount what had happened.

When the hearing concluded and the lawyers began filing out of the room, Mr. Manor sat on one of the benches looking relaxed, his legs stretched out in front of him, his arms extended resting on the bench back.

Once outside he refused to answer questions.

In September, the Ontario Securities Commission charged Mr. Manor with three counts of violating the provincial securities act. The charges, which carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $5-million fine, include destroying documents and improperly selling Portus products to investors.

However, lawyers have said that Mr. Manor is unlikely to be extradited for a case not involving criminal charges.