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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Certain Stanford Investors Get Some SEC Support

It looks like at least some of the investors who were screwed by Stanford may get to recover some assets. This is not meant to be a catch-all recovery nor for all investors, at least not the way we have read into a release from the SEC today. The news release from the Securities and Exchange Commission concluded that “certain individuals who invested money through the Stanford Group Company – a U.S. broker-dealer owned and used by Allen Stanford to perpetrate a massive Ponzi scheme – are entitled to the protections of the Securities Investor Protection Act of 1970 (SIPA).”

Before thinking this encompasses all assets for all customers, that might not be the case. The SEC went on to note, “on the specific facts of this case, investors with brokerage accounts at SGC who purchased the CDs through the broker-dealer qualify for protected “customer” status under SIPA.” This covers Stanford Group Company that was owned by Allen Stanford “to perpetrate a massive Ponzi scheme.”

Today’s news out of the SEC noted that these investors were sold certificates of deposit, or CDs, which were issued by Stanford International Bank Ltd. through the Stanford Group Company, and Stanford Group Company is a SIPC Member.

The SEC determined that customers’ claims should be based on their net investment in the fraudulent CDs used to carry out the Ponzi scheme. A SIPA liquidation proceeding would allow investors with accounts at SGC to file claims with a trustee selected by SIPC. Unfortunately for investors, it appears to be up to the trustee to decide whether investors have customer claims protected by a statute. Those who disagree with the trustee’s determination could seek a court review.

Lastly, the SEC noted, “The Commission has authorized its staff to file an action in federal district court under SIPA to compel SIPC to initiate a liquidation proceeding in the event SIPC does not do so.”


What this translates to certainly does not sound immediately like a full restitution. The analysis in the formal letter from the SEC to SIPC noted that the SEC “is making a formal request to the SIPC Board of Directors to take the necessary steps to institute a SIPA liquidation proceeding of SGC. Should the Board refuse to take such action, the Commission has authorized its Division of Enforcement to bring an action in district court against SIPC to compel the institution of a proceeding to liquidate SGC under SIPA.”

A separate release from SIPC noted, “The Securities Investor Protection Corporation (“SIPC”), which maintains a special reserve fund mandated by Congress to protect the customers of insolvent brokerage firms, said that it will analyze the referral provided today by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) with respect to the Stanford Group Company, operated by Robert Allen Stanford.”

Unfortunately, this is one of those situations that caught many investors off balance and has killed more than a few fortunes. Any and all Stanford investors will want to look far deeper than the amount of coverage we can give to this tragic topic.

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