A PONZI WORLD FIRST? Regulators Have Evidence Accused Minnesota Schemer Trevor Cook Bought A ‘Submarine’ To Shuttle To Private Island

You’ve heard about the Ponzi mansions. You’ve heard about the luxury automobiles — Scott Rothstein’s $1.6 million Bugatti and the $350,000 Rolls-Royces he and suspects in other Ponzi schemes enjoyed.

Now comes word that Trevor Cook, implicated in Minnesota with radio talk-show host Pat Kiley in an alleged Ponzi scheme involving at least $194 million, owned a submarine.

Not a submarine sandwich, but an actual, two-person, submersible submarine used for underwater transit. It allegedly was purchased on eBay for $40,000 and was used to tool around the waters that surrounded his private island in Canada.

Yep, he allegedly bought himself his own island, too.

An old-fashioned speedboat to access the island, perhaps, was too practical. And perhaps building a bridge to the island upon which Cook could pilot his Rolls was too expensive, even for an alleged Ponzi-schemer forcing himself to draw the line somewhere. (Yes, regulators say that Cook, like Rothstein and others, also owned a Rolls.)

At least two people who’ve been deposed in the Cook case have referenced the submarine. And Cook referenced it himself in an email sent to an associate in Europe last spring, according to the Star Tribune of Minneapolis-St. Paul.

He appeared to be disappointed after the purchase, the newspaper reported, because the waters surrounding the island were muddy. Not to worry, though: Cook ventured the sub would serve its intended purpose much farther south — in Panama, where he believed the water to be more sub-friendly than those dark waters in Canada.

We obtained a copy of the Sept. 14 transcript in which SEC attorney Steven L. Klawans was conducting the deposition of witness Gerald Durand. The deposition turned to the matter of Cook’s affinity for expensive things.

“Does Cook own any boats, planes or anything?” Klawans asked Durand.

“I heard be bought a sub,” Durand replied.

The transcript does not capture the emotional feel of the setting, but it’s easy to imagine that people observing the deposition were stunned.

“A what?” Klawans intoned.

“Submarine,” Durand reaffirmed.

A moment later, in response to another question by Klawans, Durand told a story that may become the stuff of legend in the Ponzi world.

“[Cook] told me . . . he bought the sub because he bought the island, so he needed a submarine to sail around the water up there. It’s a two-man deal. Paid $40,000 for it off of [eBay].”

Visit the Star Tribune, whose coverage of both the alleged Tom Petters’ Ponzi scheme and the alleged Cook/Kiley Ponzi scheme has been riveting.

Screen shot: Deposition in Cook/Kiley Ponzi case.

Screen shot: Deposition in Cook/Kiley Ponzi case.

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12 Responses to “A PONZI WORLD FIRST? Regulators Have Evidence Accused Minnesota Schemer Trevor Cook Bought A ‘Submarine’ To Shuttle To Private Island”

  1. Hmmm, I wonder if it was yellow?

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  2. Lynn,

    The sub wasn’t yellow to my knowledge but I bet the owner was as defined by John Wayne.

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  3. Hi Lynn,

    Lynndel Edgington: Hmmm, I wonder if it was yellow?

    I did a quick scan of eBay listing last night to see if any other submarines were for sale. I did not see a listing, but I was pressed for time and only looked briefly.

    This was the first I’d heard about an alleged Ponzi pusher owning a sub, and I wondered if submarines would become the new “must have” vanity purchase.

    Too soon to tell, I guess.

    Regards,

    Patrick

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  4. admin: Hi Lynn,

    Lynndel Edgington: Hmmm, I wonder if it was yellow?

    I did a quick scan of eBay listing last night to see if any other submarines were for sale. I did not see a listing, but I was pressed for time and only looked briefly.This was the first I’d heard about an alleged Ponzi pusher owning a sub, and I wondered if submarines would become the new “must have” vanity purchase.Too soon to tell, I guess.Regards,Patrick

    I actually did one after reading this. My search terms were ‘submarine’ and ‘price $10,000 to _____’. I found one and it was quite large and starting bid was $500,000.

    Here it is:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Submarine_W0QQcmdZViewItemQQhashZitem4a9c5af41eQQitemZ320450786334QQptZPowerQ5fMotorboats

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  5. Hi Whip,

    Whip: I actually did one after reading this. My search terms were ’submarine’ and ‘price $10,000 to _____’. I found one and it was quite large and starting bid was $500,000.

    Here it is:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Submarine_W0QQcmdZViewItemQQhashZitem4a9c5af41eQQitemZ320450786334QQptZPowerQ5fM

    That’s a good find. Makes me wonder about what price actually was paid for the purported Cook submarine. The sub in the eBay ad might be bigger than Cook’s ride, and the company on eBay does appear to have a smaller model.

    Patrick

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  6. Be sure to ask if shipping is included, whether there is an extended warranty available and where the nearest “service station” is located.

    The logistics of owning a submarine must be a nightmare.

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  7. dirty_bird:

    I have wondered this myself as there is a documentary about Russian drug runners buying old dry docked Russian subs. I believe one of them actually lives in Miami. What do they do when it breaks down? I would guess they buy another one.

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  8. The Colombians and other drug smugglers are using submarines and semi-submersibles to run drugs from South America to Mexico. By semi-submersibles I mean custom made boats with the profile of an iceberg. Almost the whole profile is underwater but they are not water tight so they can’t dive.

    I can’t see that owning a private submarine in Panama would go unnoticed.

    Whip:

    dirty_bird:

    I have wondered this myself as there is a documentary about Russian drug runners buying old dry docked Russian subs. I believe one of them actually lives in Miami. What do they do when it breaks down? I would guess they buy another one.

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  9. Well all I can say is that Andy Bowdoin’s idea of wealth is definitely on the down-market side. No submarines, no Ferrari’s…..I guess that he wont even go down in the list of ponzi owners with interesting assets… jet skies hardly make the grade. If anything, it makes the ASD story seem even more grubby than it already is.

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  10. dirty_bird: The Colombians and other drug smugglers are using submarines and semi-submersibles to run drugs from South America to Mexico.By semi-submersibles I mean custom made boats with the profile of an iceberg.Almost the whole profile is underwater but they are not water tight so they can’t dive.I can’t see that owning a private submarine in Panama would go unnoticed.

    Whip:

    dirty_bird:

    I have wondered this myself as there is a documentary about Russian drug runners buying old dry docked Russian subs. I believe one of them actually lives in Miami. What do they do when it breaks down? I would guess they buy another one.

    Maybe he bought the island to use as a model for this type of sub you mention. :)

    The Columbians and Russians are in bed together……not that this should be a big surprise:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/inatl/longterm/russiagov/stories/mafia092997.htm

    http://www.google.com/search?q=russian+drug+dealer+submarine&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

    I wonder if ponzi boy was taking tips from these guys or had other intentions.

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  11. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narco_submarine

    During the 1980s, fast, powerful go-fast boats became notorious as the drug smuggling vessel of choice in many parts of the world. Due to more effective radar coverage, Colombian drug cartels are now adapting to semi-submersible use.

    The first time the U.S. Coast Guard found one, authorities dubbed it Bigfoot because they had heard rumors that such things existed, but nobody had actually seen one.[1] It was late 2006 when a Bigfoot was seized 145 kilometers (90 miles) southwest of Costa Rica carrying several tons of cocaine.[2] In 2006, American officials say they detected only three; now they are spotting an average of ten per month, but only one out of ten is seized, as their crew scuttle them upon interception.[3][4]

    When semi-submersibles have been stopped at sea, their crew usually scuttle them, sending boat and cocaine to the bottom. With no evidence of trafficking against them and in accordance with maritime law, the crew must be rescued and, lacking of evidence of wrongdoing, released without criminal charges.

    To address this legal loophole, the U.S. Congress worked with the U.S. Coast Guard and introduced a proposed bill on June 28, 2008 to make it illegal to be aboard an unflagged semi-submersible, regardless of seizure of narcotics inside their scuttled vessel. The Drug Trafficking Vessel Interdiction Act of 2008 was enacted in September 2008. The bill makes it a “felony for those who knowingly or intentionally operate or embark in a self-propelled semi-submersible (SPSS) that is without nationality and that is or has navigated in international waters, with the intent to evade detection.”[30

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