Las víctimas olvidadas de Stanford ahora disponible en español

Las víctimas olvidadas de Stanford, ahora disponible en español en:

Saturday, August 14, 2010


In February 2009 the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) closed down the Stanford Financial Group (SFG), based in Houston, Texas, and owned by R Allen Stanford (RAS) the flamboyant Texan banker, claimed by Forbes to be a multi-billionaire. SEC alleged it was a $7bn Ponzi scheme, based on fraudulent sales of Certificates of Deposit (CD’s) from the Stanford International Bank (SIB) domiciled in Antigua, a sovereign state in the West Indies.

Receivers were duly appointed; Ralph Janvey in the USA; and Vantis Plc in Antigua, who until the recent administration of Vantis’ themselves, fought for control of the assets of SFG and SIB in courtrooms both sides of the Atlantic.

Forensic accountants ascertained that 28,000 depositors worldwide transferred funds to SIB in Antigua to be invested in CD’s. None of those funds were ever received in Antigua, being covertly diverted to other Stanford controlled entities, with the contrivance of several high-profile correspondent-banks, where they were used to support SFG and fund RAS lavish lifestyle.

Contrary to popular media opinion, most of the depositors were not multi-millionaires seeking tax-avoidance, but ordinary people who have now lost their family retirement, medical care, and scholarship funds.

In May 2009, the acclaimed BBC television series, Panorama, aired an investigative documentary into RAS. This programme first broke the news that RAS had been a secret informant to the CIA/DEA, with links to drug cartels, and money laundering, and that RAS had been protected from prosecution by the SEC, even though they suspected the fraud as far back as 1999. There was further evidence of his close ties to the George W Bush family, and unanswered questions over the untimely death of Charlesworth Hewlett, the auditor of SIB, just weeks before the scandal broke. These claims were promptly buried and little further investigation seems to have been undertaken, until recently.

In June 2009, RAS his CEO James Davis, and Laura Prendergast Holt the CFO of SFG, were all arrested by the FBI and charged with running a massive fraud. Davis has subsequently pleaded guilty while Stanford remains in jail awaiting trial, set for January 2011. The long-anticipated second-tier of indictments has yet to materialise.

Leroy King, the head of the Financial Services Regulatory Council (FSRC), the regulator of SIB in Antigua, has been accused of accepting bribes from RAS to approve SIB’s audited accounts. His extradition process to the US has been delayed, and there are allegations the entire Antiguan cabinet, together with members of past Antiguan governments, may also have benefitted from the fraud. Successive governments in Antigua have a long-history of corruption; political malfeasance; expropriation of foreign-owned assets; and continue to be experts at soliciting aid and investment from gullible officers of willing foreign institutions, never for it to be repaid.

In July 2009, a New York law firm Morganstern and Blue, acting for the innocent victims of the fraud, filed two class-action lawsuits; one against the sovereign nation of Antigua for participating in and benefitting from the fraud; and another against the clearing banks - HSBC, Credit Suisse and Toronto Dominion amongst others - for complicity in the fraud and lack of due diligence.

In April 2010, a damning report was published by the new Inspector-General, into the failure of the SEC to act on whistle-blowing reports from former SFG employees going back more than 10 years. The former head of Enforcement at the SEC’s Fort Worth office, Spencer Barasch, quashed four separate investigations into SFG before moving-on and representing RAS in connection with a further SEC investigation. Unfortunately the SEC has immunity from prosecution; however Barasch has been referred to the Texas bar-association for misconduct. Pressure from another US agency was believed to be instrumental in closing the investigations.

In July 2010, a number of reports surfaced in the online press renewing the alleged conspiracy theories that RAS was a CIA informant, and further, that SIB became the new BCCI; the favoured conduit for CIA, MI6 and Mossad slush funds. So far none of these threads have been picked up by the popular press. In particular the deposit by the Libyan government of $500m into SIB shortly before the scandal broke has not been questioned, nor has their refusal to lodge a claim with the receivers.

Meanwhile the receivers continue to sell SFG’s assets, for deflated values that barely cover their mounting fees, leaving the innocent victims unlikely to ever see a cent from their pensions again, while members of the Antiguan Government believe they are above the law and continue to act with impunity.

For whatever reason this story is not being widely reported by the popular press, and there is suspicion that outside influences are seeking to bury it.

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