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Cuba Denies Knowledge of U.S. Fugitive
April 23, 2004
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Filed at 12:15 a.m. ET

HAVANA (AP) -- Cuba's foreign minister denied knowing anything Thursday about an American multimillionaire who U.S. authorities said fled here to avoid tax fraud charges.

U.S. authorities say Herbert Axelrod, a publishing tycoon and philanthropist, traveled here in recent days to avoid arraignment this week.

A federal judge in Trenton, N.J., issued a warrant for Axelrod's arrest when he failed to appear for the Wednesday hearing.

"Cuba has never been a refuge for those fleeing justice," Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque said. He pointed out that three men were arrested in Cuba this month on charges stemming from a Mexico City corruption investigation.

In Trenton, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Guadagno said Axelrod's yacht was docked at Havana's Marina Hemingway. Several telephone calls placed to the resort rang unanswered Thursday afternoon.

A reporter saw a yacht believed to belong to Axelrod, the Lady Ev II, docked at marina Thursday. American crew members cleaning the boat declined to answer questions.

The United States has no extradition treaty with Cuba.

Axelrod, 76, is a philanthropist best known for selling millions of dollars worth of musical instruments at a discount to the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

Axelrod was charged with using Swiss bank accounts to hide more than $700,000 in income from the IRS related to the publishing company he owned that specialized in books on animals and pets.

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