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An investment club that offers a 10-per-cent monthly return through offshore investments has suspended payments to its members after its Canadian founder was arrested in Mexico carrying $4.5-million (U.S.) in cashier's cheques and money orders.

Tri-West Investment Club, which is based in Belize and operates primarily over the Internet, has posted an "urgent" notice on its Web site that tells members that recent difficulties have forced the company to "suspend membership activities" as of May 1, affecting "bonus payments" for May and June.

Tri-West founder Alyn Richard Waage, 55, was arrested in April after he landed at Puerto Vallarta on a leased Lear jet.

The company's Web site does not identify Mr. Waage by name, but says that a Tri-West courier who was en route to deposit cheques in the company's "Latvian payment account" had to "make an unscheduled layover and did not know he had to declare [cheques]in excess of $10,000 [U.S.] Airport authorities then confiscated these [cheques]"

Corporal John Lovie of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Edmonton said the courier was Mr. Waage. Mr. Waage was arrested with two other men travelling with him, and is being held without bail on suspicions of money-laundering. Corporal Lovie said Mr. Waage is being held in a jail in Guadalajara. Neither he nor his lawyer could be reached for comment Sunday.

Mexican authorities contacted the RCMP after Mr. Waage's arrest because Mr. Waage is wanted by Canadian authorities in relation to several matters, including a mortgage scheme in Edmonton that Corporal Lovie spent several years investigating.

Corporal Lovie said he began the investigation in 1995 and wrapped it up last year, but Mr. Waage left the country in 1998. Warrants were subsequently issued for Mr. Waage's arrest, and those warrants surfaced when Mexican authorities did a routine check, Corporal Lovie said.

Regulators in a number of jurisdictions have taken steps to halt the sale of Tri-West products.

Jurisdictions that have issued orders against the sale of Tri-West's investments include Kansas, Illinois, Texas, South Dakota, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, British Columbia and Manitoba. Calls to the phone number given in Tri-West's Web site, which uses an area code in New York state, were not immediately returned Sunday.

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