23 Dec 2003

Cook Islands MP to hand back trust fund money

11:52 am on 23 December 2003

Money being held in a Cook Islands trust account connected to the residency of New Zealander Mark Lyon is to be handed back to him today. ( tuesday nz )"

His lawyer, MP Norman George, says the 150,000 New Zealand dollars, which was being held in his account, was never a bond or a surety.

He says it was simply a goodwill gesture from Mr Lyon, who has been convicted of several offences, including illegal possession of firearms in New Zealand.

Mr George says it was never true that there was 500,000 dollars in the fund as claimed by some protestors.

And, he says because of the public protests and accusations over the handling of the money, he will be returning it to Mr Lyon who now has his residency permit.

"There's so much criticism, I'm handing the money back to him. And, I'm not going to sit there and leave that money in my trust account and have everybody look over my shoulder. I'm just handing it to him because it's not appreciated. It's not a bond, I told you, it's not a bond, it's not a surety, it's nothing like that. It's a goodwill fund. It was never tied up with anything, it was just a voluntary cheque which I'm now handing him back.

According to the Cook Islands News, Norman George says he is returning 100,000 of the 150,000 dollars with the rest being retained for legal expenses

Mr George says he's considering taking some of the protestors to court over defamation.