By Allen Johnson Jr.
Was it a mundane transaction or a clandestine encounter? The long paper trail of accused Chinese spy Tai Shen Kuo, 58, of New Orleans, apparently includes a 17-year-old American Express credit owed to a Metairie restaurant that Kuo once owned, records show. In 1991, American Express reported an outstanding credit of $94.65 to Mr. Tais Restaurant, 701 Metairie Road, according to the State Treasurers Web site for unclaimed property (www.latreasury.com). The notation seems more intriguing since Kuos recent arrest by the FBI on espionage charges, although Treasury spokesperson Sarah Mulhearn says the offices unclaimed property division had not heard from the FBI. A naturalized U.S. citizen who has resided in New Orleans since 1973, Kuo reportedly opened Mr. Tais in the mid-1980s. The restaurant later closed. After a two-year surveillance by the FBIs Foreign Counter-Intelligence Unit, agents raided Kuos Uptown home and a separate residence in Houma on Feb. 11. Kuo and two others are in jail in Virginia, charged with passing national defense secrets to the Peoples Republic of China. New Orleans FBI spokesperson Sheila Thorne says anyone with tips on the spy case can call the Bureau hotline at 504-816-3000.