Brazil orders arrest of Moon sect leaders

COMTEX/May 23, 2002

Rio de Janeiro -- A legislative commission in Mato Grosso do Sul - the Brazilian state where Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Association of Families for Unification and World Peace has purchased large tracts of land - has issued arrest warrants for two of the group's leaders, Brazil's state-owned news agency reported.

The lawmakers investigating the group's activities said they ordered the arrest of Mauricio Raimundo Baldini, the association's president in Brazil, and spiritual leader Kim Yoon Sang, after the men twice refused to comply with subpoenas to testify before the state legislature.

The state commission was created last year to investigate several allegations of irregularities in the association's accounts.

The commission is also investigating accusations that the sect's rapid growth in Mato Grosso do Sul constitutes a "threat to national sovereignty."

Moon's followers have bought more than 50 large farms near the Paraguayan border, where the sect administers an immense farming complex called "Nova Esperanca" (New Hope), according to the commission's reports.

The sect has attracted followers from various parts of the world to the area, the commission said.

The association's accounts are also being investigated by federal Judge Odilson de Oliveira, who ordered raids on several of Moon's offices in Mato Grosso do Sul and Sao Paulo states.

In the raids, police seized accounting records and $250,000 in cash, as well as several of the sect's computers, telephones and data files.

The banking and tax records of the association's leaders have also been ordered open for scrutiny by Oliveira as part of an investigation of money laundering and tax evasion allegations.

The sect's accounts were first investigated after Jai Siki Kim, Moon's former associate, told police he helped the association launder money in Brazil.

Moon, a fervent anti-communist during the Cold War, served 13 months in a U.S. federal prison in the mid-1980s for tax evasion.

In addition, the activities of Moon's association have been banned in several Latin American countries.

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