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Twin Cities advisers accused of mismangement

Two Ohio families and their pastor filed a federal lawsuit in Minneapolis this week accusing some “confusingly intertwined” Twin Cities investment advisers and a dozen business entities of fraud, misrepresentation and other breaches in the handling of their life savings.

The eight plaintiffs claimed Trevor Cook, 37, of Burnsville and Gerald Durand, 58, of Lakeville persuaded them to invest nearly $5 million in a currency arbitrage program that guaranteed instant liquidity and promised annual returns of 10.5 to 12 percent. But the plaintiffs say they ran into resistance this spring when they tried to withdraw some of their money.

Chief U.S. District Judge Michael Davis took the unusual step Tuesday of issuing a temporary restraining order that freezes as much as $5 million in several of the defendants’ bank and investment accounts. He scheduled a hearing for Friday on a motion for a preliminary injunction in the case.

According to the lawsuit, Durand notified the plaintiffs last month that he had split away from Cook, and that he had heard “that a large sum of money invested with Cook was missing” and that an investigation was pending. Durand advised one of the investors to get all of his money out quickly or he would be unable to do so, the suit says.

Cook’s business cards and other documents indicate he’s an investment director and managing partner at Oxford Global Partners and is the chief investment director at Oxford Global Advisors. Both companies are listed at the VanDusen mansion on LaSalle Street in Minneapolis, which Cook bought for $2.6 million in June 2007. (He sold it to Oxford Global Advisors in April 2008 for the same amount.)

The lawsuit also names Oxford Private Client Group as a defendant, describing the firm as an affiliate of Oxford Global.