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Tribe seeks $1.7 trillion in damages

A purported Indian tribe from North Dakota is seeking $1.7 trillion in damages related to a lawsuit filed in Las Vegas by the Securities and Exchange Commission, but SEC lawyers on Wednesday are suggesting the judge strike the defendants’ papers from the record.

The matter remains pending before U.S. District Judge Kent Dawson.

Las Vegas-based Gold-Quest International, an alleged enterprise of the Little Shell Indian nation, claimed to operate a highly profitable currency trading system. But the SEC last month filed a lawsuit that accused Gold-Quest of running a Ponzi scheme. In a Ponzi scheme, early investors are paid with money from new investors.

The SEC said Gold-Quest cheated 2,100 U.S. and Canadian citizens out of $27.9 million.

U.S. District Judge Lloyd George froze the assets of Gold-Quest and appointed a receiver, but the case was transferred later to Dawson.

In a hearing, Michael Howard Reed identified himself as the attorney general of the Little Shell Nation and said that the defendants in the lawsuit were members of the nation and therefore immune from federal civil cases.

The SEC said the nation was not recognized by the U.S. or Canadian governments and that Reed was not authorized to practice law in federal court in Nevada.

Reed, however, on June 3 filed documents on behalf of the tribe. He said the Little Shell Nation, “whereas never ceded any right, title or interest to the Northwest Territories, United States … Bureau of Indian Affairs, king and queen of England, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, against the plaintiffs, acting on behalf of the defendant commercial interest.”

Two days later, a second defense document was filed and made a “right of claim for $1.7 trillion dollars.”

Contact reporter John G. Edwards at jedwards@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0420.

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