Stanford liquidators fight to keep job

ST JOHN’S, Antigua, Friday June 11, 2010 – The two liquidators who were this week kicked off the job of gathering Allen Stanford assets in Antigua are fighting the judge’s decision to replace them.

Nigel Hamilton-Smith and Peter Wastell of British firm Vantis Business Recovery Services announced in a statement yesterday, two days after High Court Justice Errol Thomas ruled that they be removed, that they would be appealing.

The judge had ruled in favour of Stanford investor Alexander Fundora who had challenged Vantis’ role in the liquidation, based on the finding by a court in Canada last September that it had destroyed original computer data and removed financial information from the Stanford International Bank (SIB) Montreal office. 

But Hamilton-Smith and Wastell, who were appointed joint receivers at SIB in February 2010 and joint liquidators in April that same year, said they had been advised by their legal counsel that the basis of Justice Thomas’ decision “was incorrect and that it should be urgently appealed to the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal”.

“The Joint Liquidators wish to confirm that they will request a stay in the High Court decision pending their appeal to the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal to enable them to remain in office,” they said.

Hamilton-Smith and Wastell argued that they’ve been doing a good job and should be allowed to continue.

“Since their appointment, the Joint Liquidators have continued to make significant progress in their efforts to recover monies on behalf of the creditors and investors of SIB,” the statement continued, noting that as recently as Monday, the liquidators were recognised by the Swiss Financial Regulator as the officers to whom control of the SIB assets in Switzerland, totalling in excess of US$100 million, should be given. 

They also noted that following extensive negotiations, the government of Antigua and Barbuda recently confirmed that the properties owned by SIB, which the government had made moves to compulsorily purchase, would be released to them as part of their ongoing efforts to obtain the maximum return for creditors.

In addition, they said, a settlement agreement with US receiver Ralph Janvey had sought to bring to a conclusion the legal challenges that have taken place in relation to the assets of SIB that are located in Antigua, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada.

The two sides had been fighting for control of the assets from the outset. But a week ago, they said they had reached a deal that, once approved by the High Court of Antigua and Barbuda and the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas, would see Janvey controlling the SIB assets in the US and Canada and Hamilton-Smith and Wastell taking charge of those in Antigua and the United Kingdom.

The cooperation agreement also provides a platform for both parties to share information to assist in their efforts to realise assets in the countries covered by the agreement. It is also expected that the deal would provide the opportunity for further cooperation in dealing with assets not located in the countries covered by the agreement.

Hamilton-Smith and Wastell said yesterday that they remain focused on recovering SIB assets for creditors.