Private detectives are investigating Cayman Islands links to the mysterious disappearance of a Canadian banker and his wife 20 years ago.
“It’s a big fat file, but at the end of the day…it is a mystery,” North Vancouver Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cpl. Gord Reid said Thursday. Former investment banker Nick Masee and his wife Lisa, a hairdresser, disappeared Aug. 11, 1994, leaving only their pet cat and an empty home in North Vancouver behind.
Grand Cayman was the last place the couple visited six months prior to their disappearance.
“There are tantalizing theories that have been going in various directions,” said Cpl. Reid, who reopened the cold case on the 20th anniversary of the disappearance.
“We have their passports, so we know when they went in and when they went out [of the Cayman Islands],” said Cpl. Reid.
Police are unaware of why the couple visited Grand Cayman, but Cpl. Reid confirmed that the couple saw a lawyer during their stay.
He said there were “a number of theories and speculations” in respect to the case, but very little concrete evidence to go on at the moment.
Ozzie Kaban, a private investigator who was hired by Mr. Masee’s son shortly after the couple’s disappearance, said he does not believe the couple is living in Cayman.
Mystery bank account
“I do not believe they would be in the Cayman Islands simply because of the fact we did discover the money out there, so that would be a hot place for them,” said Mr. Kaban, owner of Kaban Protective Services Inc. in Vancouver.
On his visit to the Cayman Islands in 1994, Mr. Kaban tracked down a bank account belonging to the couple with $100,000 in it. He said he was able to locate the bank account “through various sources,” and that the funds were deposited through a third party.
“When they disappeared, they would have been moving funds out of Vancouver so that they could disappear in comfort,” he said. The couple was rumored to have left Vancouver with $10 million meant for a new business venture.
Cpl. Reid said the couple is not accused of having committed any crimes, but police are still keen to find out if they are alive.
In the meantime, he is urging any residents “aware of what the purpose was of their visit in the Cayman Islands” to come forward as the information could lead to a breakthrough in the cold case.
“The most helpful thing anybody can do is if they have any information about where they are just to let us know,” he said.
CBC News in British Columbia on Friday reported speculation by Vancouver stock promoter Murray Pezim’s that the Masees were in a witness protection program.
“One fact supporting the witness-in-hiding theory was that Masee had been scheduled to testify in a trial involving a former tennis partner who was accused of stealing $100,000. But police said Masee was only a minor witness,” CBC News reported Friday.
“Another possibility involved the Pineridge Capital Group scandal, in which millions of dollars went missing when the business collapsed in 1992. Nick Masee had been a personal banker for Harry Moll, who created the Pineridge group, and who later relocated to the Cayman Islands,” CBC News reported.
Mr. Kaban said he has reason to believe the couple is still alive.
“Basically… when they disappeared, there was a call made to Nick’s office and Lisa’s parents,” he said. “They did not want to carry on any conversation about the missing couple – which was very strange.”
If alive, Nick would be in his 70s and Lisa would be in her 50s. Mr. Kaban said the couple’s son lives in Japan and their daughter is in Amsterdam.
Cpl. Reid said it is possible that the couple could have returned to the Cayman Islands since their last visit 20 years ago. As part of his investigation, he said he might follow up with the local Immigration Department to see if there are any records on file of the couple returning.
If anyone has any information, they are encouraged to contact Cpl. Reid at 604-985-1311.