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Atlanta corporation claims US helped steal gold
Updated: 2004-04-03 15:34

A lawsuit claims the US government helped steal possibly trillions of dollars in gold from an amateur Filipino treasure hunter.

It sounds like something right out of an Indiana Jones movie, but Atlanta attorney Bill Stone insists, ``The government has done stranger things.''

Court documents state that Roger Roxas, an amateur treasure hunter, began searching in 1961 for the booty of Japanese Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita, who plundered it from various Southeast Asian countries during World War II.

In 1970, Roxas found a series of tunnels on state land in the Phillipines, the documents said. The following year, Roxas and his excavators allegedly found the Yamashita Treasure, which included a 3-foot (1-meter) Buddha made of gold and several boxes full of gold bricks, the documents said.

Court documents state that between 1971 and 1974, the Philippines' then-President Ferdinand Marcos ordered his agents to torture Roxas to find the location of the gold. Stone, an attorney for Golden Buddha, an Atlanta corporation now pursuing Roxas' claim against the government, said the US government helped the Marcos regime remove the gold from the Phillipines and convert it.

Stone said his firm and a San Francisco attorney have gathered documents, taken several depositions and have determined that the Americans involved ``were working under the auspices of the CIA.''

Patrick Crosby, a spokesman with the US Attorney's Office, said that although he was not familiar with the case, filed Tuesday in federal court in Atlanta, the government does not comment on civil claims against it.

Under Filipino law, anyone who finds gold on state land is entitled to half of it, the court papers said. Stone estimates that the gold in today's market would be worth $5.3 trillion.

No damages are named in the lawsuit.

``I don't think they're going to roll over and write a check for US$5.3 trillion,'' Stone said, ``although it'd be fine with me if they did.''

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