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BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — An attorney for ex-billionaire Tim Blixseth said the real estate mogul could not meet a Friday deadline to produce all of the information on the sale of a resort in Mexico because some documents are not in the U.S.
Attorney Philip Stillman said, however, that Blixseth already has adequately accounted for the money from the $13.8 million sale of the Tamarindo resort.
U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon sent Blixseth to jail in December for not accounting for millions of dollars he owes creditors. The judge had first ordered that information produced more than a year ago.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Blixseth released from the county jail in Missoula after a week. Blixseth still could be returned to custody if he doesn't satisfy Haddon.
The judge signed an order Wednesday requesting help from Mexican courts to get information on the sale. Stillman said that process could take six months.
Blixseth has claimed he no longer has the money from Tamarindo, which included hotels and condominiums in the state of Jalisco. He originally paid $40 million for the property.
During a Jan. 23 hearing, Haddon told Blixseth's attorneys that difficulty locating documents in Mexico was no excuse for further delay.
"Something happened to the money," Haddon said, according to a transcript of the hearing. "Telling me that Mr. Blixseth is looking to some guy in Mexico for the solution to the problem is not going to carry the day."
Creditors have suggested Blixseth is trying to hide the sale proceeds along with hundreds of millions of dollars more that Blixseth took from Montana's Yellowstone Club, an elite ski and golf resort near Big Sky that counts Microsoft's Bill Gates as a member.
Creditors' trustee Brian Glasser said Blixseth already offered eight sets of conflicting accounts about the money from Mexico. Glasser said a return to jail for Blixseth "is clearly an option left to the court."
Stillman said it was unlikely Haddon will send his client back to jail.
"Maybe there's some bank records missing that are back-up documentation but all of the money has been accounted for, virtually down to the penny," Stillman said. "To the extent that we don't have things now, and don't get cooperation from other people, we're going to have to wait."
Blixseth, who resides in Washington state, founded the Yellowstone Club with his then-wife, Edra Blixseth, in the late 1990s. It spiraled into bankruptcy soon after he gave up control of the resort as part of the couple's 2008 divorce.
The club is now under new ownership
State tax authorities say Blixseth owes $57 million from unpaid taxes on a $375 million loan to the club that Tim and Edra Blixseth largely diverted for their personal use.
Glasser and the Yellowstone Club Liquidating Trust, which represents the club's remaining creditors, are trying to collect on $241 million in judgments against Blixseth stemming from the bankruptcy.
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