US politicians, the authorities in Antigua and the England and Wales Cricket Board were all left red-faced by their associations with Stanford
Three years ago last month one of the strangest manhunts in US history ended with police, journalists and satellite trucks surrounding a modest townhouse in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Inside was the fugitive billionaire fraudster Allen Stanford.
Stanford had disappeared weeks before after the US authorities had accused him of orchestrating a “massive ongoing fraud”. Billions were said to be missing and investors were panicking in cities from Houston to London, Caracas to Switzerland.
With investors still reeling from the revelations about Bernard Madoff’s historic Ponzi scheme, Stanford had become a media sensation.
He had yet to be charged with criminal wrongdoing but $7bn of funds were said to be unaccounted for and the US authorities were scouring the country to ask him some questions.
The 6ft 4in Texan had been run to ground after attempting to flee to Antigua, where he spent much of his time and moored his 112ft motor yacht, Sea Eagle Bikini. Sir Allen, as he was known on the island, was knighted by the island’s former prime minister. He was Antigua’s most powerful businessman. He owned the local newspaper, restaurants and his own cricket ground. As stories of his fall made headlines around the world a private jet company refused to accept his credit card in payment to take him back to the island.
Antigua has now revoked Stanford’s knighthood. But it wasn’t just the Caribbean island left red-faced by its association with Stanford. The scandal proved a major embarrassment on both sides of the Atlantic. In Washington, he and his executives gave over $1.8m to Democrat and Republican politicians. President Barack Obama received $4,600 for his 2008 election campaign. He was also said to have been close to former president George W Bush.
It was also a blow to the august England and Wales Cricket Board, which in 2008 signed a five-year deal with Stanford for a series of matches between England and an all-star West Indies team.
Announcing the deal, Stanford arrived at Lord’s cricket ground in a black helicopter and posed with a perspex case containing $20m.
“First of all this was not any kind of Ponzi scheme whatsoever. There was not any intent or plan to defraud anybody,” Stanford told CNBC shortly before he was formally charged. He said he was “devastated” by what had happened and blamed the US authorities for killing off his “solid, solvent” businesses with their “over-reaching” actions.
It was the last the world was to hear from Stanford for sometime. In June 2009 he was charged with fraud, conspiracy and obstruction and jailed as a flight risk. And then matters got worse.
The disgraced tycoon was attacked and severely beaten in the Joe Corley Detention Facility in Conroe about 40 miles north of Houston. The assault happened in a cell holding 14 other men that had been designed to hold eight inmates. At the time of the assault the cell had no electricity, air conditioning and was in virtual darkness.
Shocking photos of Stanford, his face a mass of cuts and bruises, chained at the ankles and strapped to a gurney emerged. The altercation over a telephone call left him unable to recall his own name, according to reports filed in court. He was prescribed powerful anti-anxiety medicine that doctors claimed contributed to “extensive retrograde amnesia” and was “completely amnestic to his life prior to the assault”.
Gone were the memories of his childhood in the tiny town of Mexia, Texas. Of how his mother, a nurse, left his father when she was nine, taking Allen and his brother with her. Gone were the stories of his failed attempt to crack the gym business, of how he made his first fortune in real estate before moving into investment management. No memories remained of his three decades of marriage to Susan and their daughter Randi, or of the women he called “outside wives” – mothers to at least five other children. All those happy memories of yachts, fast cars, a moated mansion in Miami, they had gone too.
His lawyers claimed he was unfit to stand trial.
Stanford’s ever-changing legal team and the arguments over his mental health delayed the trial until late last year when judge David Hittner ruled the “preponderance of evidence” was that Stanford was fit to stand trial.
The jury never heard from Stanford during his six-week trial. But his former Stanford Group finance chief James Davis, testifying against him, said clients were told their money went into conventional, conservative investments but the cash really went to fund his boss’s lavish lifestyle. Davis has pleaded guilty to three felony charges.
The picture that emerged was of one long spending spree to disaster.
By the end of December 2008 Stanford International Bank had only $88m in cash – it claimed to hold $1bn in assets.
As worried investors pulled out their cash, Davis told the court Stanford tried to use his beloved Antigua to bail him out. He cooked the books and 1,500 undeveloped acres Stanford had bought on the island for $64m were set to be valued at $3.2bn, Davis told the court.
The trial has left us with a clear picture of what happened to the money but mystery remains.
US diplomats were warning government officials not to be seen or photographed with Stanford two years before he landed at Lord’s.
“Embassy officers do not reach out to Stanford because of the allegations of bribery and money-laundering. The ambassador managed to stay out of any one-on-one photos with Stanford during the breakfast,” a government official wrote in a cable obtained by Wikileaks.
While he had the money to pay, it seems few people asked him any tough questions. Now they can ask all they like but Stanford won’t be answering.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) — Allen Stanford has been found guilty on 13 of 14 charges related to a $7 billion Ponzi scheme, according to multiple media reports on Tuesday.
The count where Stanford was found not guilty was related to wire fraud in a federal trial, The Wall Street Journal said.
Earlier in the day, a judge told the jury to continue deliberating after a note was sent to the bench saying they were still unable to reach a verdict in their fourth day of deliberation, media reports said.
The trial was held in Houston, Texas, and the charges carry a “possible prison sentence of nearly 20 years,” according to Reuters.
–Written by Michael Baron in New York.
See the rest here: Allen Stanford Found Guilty in Ponzi Scheme: News Alert