Let's see. He took people's money and gave them a Certificate of Deposit. He promised them a high return and then invested the money into losing investments. Sounds an awful lot like every single pension fund out there. And the bezzle continues to shrink as more paper wealth burns away...
Manhunt: Accused Financier Scammer Stanford Missing
Authorities say Investor Losses Could Rival Madoff Scandal
By BRIAN ROSS, JOSEPH RHEE, and JUSTIN ROOD
February 18, 2009—
Texas financier R. Allen Stanford is accused of cheating 50,000 customers out of $8 billion dollars but despite raids Tuesday of his financial empire in Houston, Memphis, and Tupelo, Miss., federal authorities say they do not know the current whereabouts of the CEO.
The Securities Exchange Commission alleges Stanford ran a fraud promising investors impossible returns, much like Bernard Madoff's $50 billion alleged Ponzi scheme.
Investigators Tuesday shut down and froze the assets of three of the companies Stanford controls and they say the case could grow to be as big as the Madoff scandal. Like Madoff's clients, Stanford's investors are in shock.
"Initially we put our money in this institution and in a CD because we were nervous about the markets and thought it was a safe place," said investor Brett Zagone. "I'm so upset right now I can't even talk about it."
But in addition to angry clients, Stanford, like Madoff, has many friends in Washington.
Stanford's business is headquartered on the Caribbean island of Antigua. In the last decade, Stanford and his companies have spent more than $7 million on lobbyists and campaign contributions in efforts to loosen regulation of offshore banks.
Among the top recipients: Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Congressman Pete Sessions (R-Texas), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), one of the members who took a trip to Antigua where he was entertained by Stanford.
Sen Cornyn's office has said the trip "was strictly a fact-finding trip," and at the time, "there was nothing untoward or unseemly" about Stanford Financial.
Senators Will Return Campaign Contributions from Stanford
Sen. Nelson said late Tuesday that he would return money received by Stanford. "I will give to charity any campaign contributions from him or his employees," Nelson said through his spokesman.
A McCain spokesperson said Wednesday that all contributions from Stanford would be donated. "The McCain Campaign is donating all contributions from R. Allen Stanford, and from individuals associated with Stanford Financial, to charity." This spokesperson said they will donate contributions made to both McCain's Presidential and Senate campaigns, but did not have a dollar amount.
Stanford himself did not contribute to the McCain Presidential campaign. He gave the maximum $4,600 contribution to President Obama's campaign. Indeed, Obama returned $2,300 that was contributed over the limit to Stanford.
Some say the investigation into Stanford should include an examination of his relationships with members of Congress.
"Surely there has to be a part of the investigation to look at what was done in Congress and whether the money that was spent to lobby and make political contributions played any role in all of this," said Sheila Krumholz of the Center for Responsive Politics.
Once again, this could be another case of the SEC asleep at the switch. Allegations of fraud and possible drug money laundering have been made against Stanford in the past ten years, but the SEC took action only after two former employees filed a lawsuit in civil court.
UPDATE: MSNBC is reporting that Allen Stanford tried to hire a private jet to flee the US.
According to ABC News, federal authorities do not know the current whereabouts of Texas banker R. Allen Stanford, who was accused Tuesday by the SEC of trying to bilk some 50,000 customers out of $8 billion. His apparent disappearance comes despite raids Tuesday of Stanford's offices in Houston, Memphis, and Tupelo, Miss.
ABC also reports that federal authorities say the case could grow as big as the $50 billion ponzi scheme allegedly perpetrated by Bernie Madoff
For Stanford's other controversy, click here.
For more information on Stanford's political donations, click here.
For seven surprising shockers from the SEC's complaint on Stanford, click here.
For a slideshow of Stanford's influential circle of friends, including powerful Senator Chris Dodd and golf superstar Vijay Singh, click here.
The Huffington Post intends to dig deeper into this story, and we need your help. If you have invested with Stanford or know about the bank's business practices, we want to hear from you. Email us at submissions+Stanford@huffingtonpost.com.
If you have invested with Stanford, let us know about your returns on investment. Have you tried to get your money back and been rebuffed? What have you been told about the bank's portfolio? How long have you been invested with him?
If you know Stanford personally, tell us about him.
Email your insights to submissions+Stanford@huffingtonpost.com
ANOTHER TIMELY DEATH...
Run on Stanford banks in wake of fraud charges
Hundreds of people in Antigua queued today to withdraw money from banks linked to Sir Allen Stanford, the Twenty20 cricket mogul and US financier, after being panicked by the $8bn fraud charges against his company.
There was a run on two branches of the Bank of Antigua, owned by the Texan billionaire's Stanford Financial Group. The banks have not been linked to the allegations of fraud lodged at a federal court in Dallas yesterday.
In Panama, bank regulators said they had taken over the local affiliate of Stanford Financial Group after a similar run on customer deposits.
Hundreds of Venezuelans mobbed local offices of Stanford International. It was the second day that long lines formed at offices in Venezuela, people with investments at the company said. Venezuelans have an estimated $2.5bn invested in Stanford International, the country's banking regulator has said.
Confusion surrounds 'auditor' of Allen Stanford's business empire
The Antigua-based accountancy firm purportedly responsible for auditing Allen Stanford's $8bn (£5.6bn) business empire is in a state of confusion following the death of its founder last month.
The firm, CAS Hewlett, is described by the US Securities and Exchange Commission as a "small local accounting firm". The regulator said its efforts to make contact had been unsuccessful: "The commission attempted several times to contact Hewlett by telephone. No one ever answered the phone."
Yesterday the SEC accused Stanford of perpetrating a multibillion-dollar fraud, raising questions about how the Stanford empire had been monitored.
When the Guardian tried calling CAS Hewlett today, the phone was answered promptly by an office manager, Eugene Perry. Perry said that CAS Hewlett's chief executive, Charlesworth Hewlett, died in January. When asked who had taken over managing the firm, Perry replied: "At present, the company is in transition and it has not really been sorted out yet."
Indeed, it is far from clear whether CAS Hewlett is still the auditor for Stanford International Bank. Perry said: "That's one of the things I'm not too sure of. You see, their year end is 31st December. Mr Hewlett died on January 1st."
When asked how many people work at CAS Hewlett, Mr Perry said this was "a tough question" before requesting that all further enquiries be made by email.
GoogleImage this guy and check out some of the news stories about him over the past year. It will be very interesting to see if he is ever caught.
2/19/09 - Stanford has been found! He turned in his passport and was served on a civil complaint, but so far he, like Bernard Madoff, is not in jail.