Federal judge orders infomercial king to surrender passports as FTC argues to have him jailed

CHICAGO, Ill. - A federal judge has ordered infomercial king Kevin Trudeau not to leave the country and to surrender all of his passports.

The development comes as the Federal Trade Commission argues to have Trudeau thrown in prison for failure to pay an enormous $37.6 million judgment.

Throughout the federal contempt case, the FTC has argued that Trudeau has the money to repay consumers for misleading them about the contents of his weight-loss book.

Attorneys for the FTC have presented evidence that Trudeau is hiding assets in offshore accounts. They have also produced emails and bank statements showing lavish expenses for furniture and personal chefs.

"It is unlikely that the defendant can meet his burden to produce evidence that he has a complete inability to comply with the Court's order that he compensate consumers," Judge Robert Gettleman wrote in his order. "In fact, (FTC) introduced evidence that defendant took substantial measures to hide and dissipate assets."

When he took the stand last month, Trudeau invoked his Fifth Amendment right nearly 400 times.

The federal contempt hearing is tied to an undercover 41 Action News investigation about the Global Information Network (GIN), a secret club promoted by Trudeau.

During that November investigation, 41 Action News revealed controversy about the club, including complaints from former members in the Kansas City area who claimed they did not receive promised cash payouts.

The 41 Action News investigation also raised questions about whether Trudeau was using the club as another way to shield millions of dollars from the government. 

Trudeau argues that he has no control over the finances of companies like GIN.

Judge Gettleman said it was necessary to prevent Trudeau from leaving the country because it is unlikely that Trudeau will "turn himself in." Gettleman cited the TV pitchman's move to Zurich, Switzerland shortly after the FTC began its argument to have Trudeau jailed for failure to pay the judgment.

Trudeau's next court appearance is on Monday, July 1. In the meantime, Judge Gettleman has asked him not to transfer any assets outside of "normal and customary living expenses."

Stay with KSHB.com for any other developments out of the federal courthouse in Chicago.

Ryan Kath can be reached at ryan.kath@kshb.com. You can also follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook.

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