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RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (January 25, 2000 – Cook Islands Star)---A Cook Islands based trust has been housing stolen money according to a claim made in papers filed in a New York court, which also named the trust.

The 174-count indictment papers allege that A R Barron, well known New York stockbrokers, besides defrauding clients out of more than US$ 100 million, also -- and deceptively -- manipulated company stocks, misled investors about the value of securities they sold, made unauthorised use of customers accounts, and misled U.S. regulators about the firm’s solvency.

New York’s Assistant District Attorney, Mr. John Moscow, told an arraignment hearing that "large sums of clients’ money have been deposited in Swiss bank accounts and a trust based in the Cook Islands."

The indictment follows a 10-month long investigation started by complaints from a company that allegedly lost US$ 2.5 million.

All 13 officers of A R Barron were arrested and pleaded not guilty. Each faces, among other charges, one count of operating a criminal enterprise, which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years.

An Auckland based investigator of international fraud told Cook Islands Star that he knew all about "the housed money."

"It was I who slipped in and out of the place to investigate it on instructions from U.S. counterparts," he said. "You can bet your bottom dollar baby, I know all about it and many other interesting things too.

"Your country is a haven for stolen, laundered, and drug money.

"Speaking of drug money, your paradise was home for the world’s leading marijuana smuggler’s money - all with the knowledge and blessings of leading politicians in your country."

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