Investors question Antigua Stanford liquidators
A US court-appointed investors committee asks Stanford International Bank liquidators in Antigua to account for assets and expenses.
TEXAS, United States, Thursday August 18, 2011 – Following a recent decision by a London court authorizing the Antiguan liquidators of Stanford International Bank (SIB) to spend up to US$20 million of funds frozen in the U.K, a US court-appointed investors committee has asked the Antiguan liquidators to account for all recoveries and expenses since the liquidation was initiated in February 2009.
The Stanford Investors Committee asked Marcus Wide and Hugh Dickson of accounting firm Grant Thornton to provide a full accounting of all recoveries and expenses, both paid and unpaid; a comprehensive list of remaining assets in the SIB estate and the estimated value; and the action plan cited in their request to the U.K. court to obtain access to the frozen funds.
“The investors deserve full disclosure of all details related to the Antiguan liquidation proceeding for Stanford International Bank,” said John Little, the U.S. court-appointed Examiner and Chairman of the seven-member Stanford Investors Committee that was appointed by the U.S. District Court in August 2010 to represent the interests of the approximate 20,000 Stanford Financial Group investors from 113 countries.
“The U.S. receivership proceedings for the more than 100 other Stanford entities are quite public and a number of reports on the receiver’s professional fees, recoveries and overall status of the estate have been filed with the court. We have not seen that from the Antiguan proceeding and we hope to see that change with this new liquidation team.”
The Grant Thornton team had told the London Central Criminal Court that funds frozen for SIB’s depositors were needed to launch legal action against third parties, to pursue litigation to secure property and assets frozen in Antigua, and to develop and market the Antiguan properties.
The request for access to the funds was opposed by the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office and the U.S. Department of Justice, which stated the funds should be repatriated to the U.S. for distribution to Stanford’s approximate 20,000 investors around the world.
However, the judge agreed to allow the liquidators access to an initial US$5 million and subsequent amounts up to a total of US$20 million.
The Antiguan liquidators had told the court that if the judge did not approve the application for access of up to US$20 million of the US$100 million frozen in U.K. accounts, they were considering alternative financing through a hedge fund using Stanford-owned properties as collateral.
“The Committee is absolutely not in support of allowing funds designated for the victims to be used to finance the Antiguan liquidators who’ve yet to liquidate anything and whose legal authority is questionable at best,” Morgenstern said.
“It is difficult to understand how after two and a half years, the SIB estate has not recovered anything and the liquidators would need to borrow the investors’ funds to pay themselves,” added Angela Shaw, a member of the Stanford Investors Committee and the Director and Founder of the Stanford Victims Coalition.
“It is also difficult to understand why an Antiguan-appointed liquidator would have to litigate to secure Stanford-owned properties in Antigua. That litigation shouldn’t be necessary and the Antiguan government should be assisting in every way possible so that Stanford victims do not suffer further harm.”
The Stanford Investors Committee has also asked Grant Thornton to agree to a cooperation protocol between the two proceedings in order to minimize the expenses and maximize recovery for Stanford’s victims.
“The Investors Committee believes such a protocol is absolutely essential to avoid the continuation of the ‘turf battles’ that have characterized the proceedings and cost Stanford’s victims millions of dollars,” said Morgenstern.
“The Investors Committee believes the liquidation of all Stanford entities, all litigation, and distribution of assets to Stanford’s victims should be supervised by a court in the United States and not Antigua, whose top officials have been accused of fraud, bribery, and corruption in connection with the Stanford scandal,” he said.
“The same veil of secrecy and loose, unenforced laws that allowed Stanford to perpetuate a US$7 billion Ponzi scheme shielded the first SIB liquidators and Stanford’s investors cannot continue to be exposed to further victimization in a questionable jurisdiction.”
Little said the Investors Committee is hopeful a cooperation agreement can be reached among the U.S. Receiver, the Stanford Investors Committee, and the SIB liquidators in Antigua in the near future.
He said the first step in the process is for the new liquidators to provide a full accounting from the previous liquidators, Nigel Hamilton-Smith and Peter Wastell of Vantis Business Recovery, and agree to full transparency moving forward.