12 Feb 2004

Palau warns about scammers after it was offered millions

7:50 pm on 12 February 2004

The president of Palau, Tommy Remengesau has warned of a probable scam after his country was offered a 100 million US dollar loan by a non-existent South Pacific country.

He says the offer had supposedly come from a newly formed country off the northeast coast of Australia and ruled by a sheikh.

However the supposed ruler, Sheikh Yakub Al-Sheikh Ibrahim, is listed as a fugitive and wanted by the US for wire fraud, money laundering, income tax evasion and false statements.

And Palauan investigators, who tried to locate the country at the coordinates given by a visiting delegation, found nothing but deep blue sea.

The delegation, claiming to be from the United Kingdom of Atlantis arrived in Palau last month and asked to meet with the president.

The President's chief of staff, Billy Kuartei, met with the group and listened to their proposal.

Mr Remengesau says the incident shows that money should never be the driving issue because it can get you involved with the wrong people.