Stanford sentencing delayed by new trial
Decision on how long Stanford to be in prison deferred while jury decides if US$330 million in accounts of convicted tycoon can be seized.
ST JOHN’S, Antigua, Thursday March 8, 2012 — Whether former Antigua-based billionaire Allen Stanford will spend the next 20 years or more in a Texas prison is yet to be known as prosecutors have now initiated a new trial aimed at asset recovery.
Following Stanford’s conviction on Tuesday, a prosecutor asked jurors yesterday (March 7) to allow federal authorities to seize US$330 million from nearly 30 accounts controlled by the Texas tycoon and others, saying the funds are proceeds from the financier’s massive Ponzi scheme and can be traced back to investors who lost billions. Deliberations on the criminal forfeiture proceedings start today before the same jury that convicted him on 13 out of 14 counts of fraud.
A sentencing date for Stanford is not expected to be set until after the jury makes a decision in the forfeiture proceeding. The most serious charges against Stanford carry up to 20 years in prison, and if he is ordered to serve his sentences consecutively, the 61-year-old could spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Antiguan prime minister Baldwin Spencer has pledged to work with other agencies to try to help recover money that victims across the globe lost to Stanford through his bank based on the island.
However, Spencer has been lamenting to the international media that the Stanford case has dragged his country’s name through the mud.
“[This conviction] doesn’t bring any real joy,” commented Spencer when contacted following Tuesday’s guilty verdict. “This country was made out as a country that encouraged and gave sustenance, if you like, to such type of developments, and that clearly was not the case in my view.”
Leroy King, the former director of Antigua’s Financial Services Regulatory Commission, has been indicted in the US on charges of accepting bribes to ignore irregularities in Stanford’s financial empire and of writing false and misleading letters to the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The Antiguan law courts recently upheld a decision that would allow King to be extradited to the US. King was removed from his post after the scandal broke around Stanford, who was once the largest private employer in Antigua with 800 workers. Along with Stanford Bank, he owned a cricket stadium, a restaurant, an airline, a newspaper and a development company.
Postal inspector Clayton Gerber, the only witness in the proceeding, told jurors that $2.5 million of what authorities are trying to seize was traced to one of Stanford’s girlfriends. The money was used to help Rebecca Reeves-Stanford buy two homes and also went to a bank account in the Cook Islands in the South Pacific that she controlled and was dubbed the “Baby Mama Trust,” he said.
Reeves-Stanford had two of the financier’s children and has been described by authorities as one of his “outside wives.” Stanford is married but is going through a divorce.
If the jury decides the US$330 million can be traced back to CD depositor funds, federal authorities can then attempt to seize the money that has been frozen in the accounts, located in countries including Switzerland, Britain and Canada.
Stanford’s attorney counter that prosecutors did not prove that all of the money from these accounts — which belonged to Stanford, his companies and one of his girlfriends — can be connected back to investors.
Ali Fazel, one of Stanford’s attorneys, told jurors that prosecutors wanted them to make a leap and assume all of the money in these accounts came from CD depositors.
If the jury rules in the prosecution’s favour, it would not necessarily mean the federal government would get the money as liquidators appointed by the Antiguan Court are also vying for control of many of these same accounts. Authorities say the process to get the funds could take years.