Above: Casey Federal Courthouse in Houston
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Financier R Allen Stanford has received a 110-year prison sentence for orchestrating a 20-year investment fraud scheme in which he misappropriated $7 billion from his Stanford International Bank.
The sentencing was announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer of the US Justice Department’s Criminal Division; US Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas and a number of federal officials.
Stanford, 62, was convicted on 13 of 14 counts by a federal jury following a six-week trial before US District Judge David Hittner.
“Mr Stanford, you took advantage of the trust that is placed in US companies and caused losses that prevented families from being able to pay for medical and basis living expenses,” said Jamie Escalona, who represents Stanford victims from Latin America.
The jury also found that 29 financial accounts located abroad, totaling $330 million, were proceeds of the fraud and should be forfeited.
“This was not a bloodless financial crime carried out on paper,” said Angie Shaw, director and founder of the Stanford Victims Coalition. “It was and is an inconceivably heinous crime and it has taken a staggering toll on the victims. Innocent investors from around the world sacrificed and saved for decades to build a solid foundation for their futures.”
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, the vehicle for Stanford’s fraud was SIB, an offshore bank Stanford owned based in Antigua and Barbuda, which sold certificates of deposit to depositors.
He first began operating the bank in 1985 in Montserrat, under the name Guardian International Bank, moving the bank to Antigua in 1990 and changing its name to Stanford International Bank. SIB issued CDs which generally paid a premium over interest rates on CDs issued by US banks.
By 2008, the bank owed its CD depositors more than $8 billion.
SIB’s annual reports reported that they invested CD proceeds in conservative, marketable securities which were also highly liquid — that meant that the bank could purportedly sell its assets and pay back its depositors shortly.
But that strategy only represented about 10 to 15 percent of the bank’s assets, with Stanford diverting billions of dollars in depositor funds into various companies he owned in the form of undisclosed “loans.”
The companies included restaurants, a cricket tournament and several real estate projects, among others.
Several of his alleged co-conspirators had also been indicted.
The Justice Department thanked the government of Antigua and Barbuda for its ongoing cooperation during the investigation and prosecution of Stanford.