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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Stanford Used Threats, Charm to Influence Antiguan Regulator

By Laurel Brubaker Calkins and Andrew Harris - Jan 31, 2012

An Antiguan judge who is also the island’s top banking regulator told the jury at R. Allen Stanford’s investment fraud trial that he repeatedly tried to influence the agency that oversaw his banking operations there.

Marian Althea Crick said she complained to Antiguan officials shortly after Stanford relocated his bank to the island until the financier was removed as a director of the agency that predated the Financial Services Regulatory Commission, where she is now chairman. She said it was “a clear conflict” to have the owner of a regulated entity participating in the agency that oversees the business.

“It reminded me of a saying we have at home,” Crick, a government witness, testified yesterday in federal court in Houston in the second week of the trial. “It was a classic case of the rat being put in charge of the cheese.”

Stanford, 61, who was indicted in June 2009, is charged with 14 counts including mail fraud, wire fraud and obstruction of a probe by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He denies the charges.

Crick testified that Antigua’s prime minister told her Stanford wanted her fired after she had a series of public and private disagreements with the financier in the 1990s. She said Stanford even briefly took control of her agency while she was out of the country in 1998, until she got Antigua’s Attorney General to reverse the decision on legal grounds.

Month-Long Trip
In 1999, Stanford paid for office space and placed several of his employees on the official committee tasked with conducting a formal review of Antigua’s international banks, Crick said. In 2001, she said, Stanford urged government officials to send her and an auditor examining Stanford International Bank Ltd. on a month-long trip so that a different auditor could complete the bank’s audit.

Stanford tried charm when threats failed, Crick said. Once, Stanford unsuccessfully tried to upgrade her economy flight to first class for a British banking conference. After another disagreement, when she informed Stanford forcefully that she “was not a yes person” and wouldn’t rubber-stamp his requests, she said, “He held my hand, and looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘You remind me so much of myself.’”

When Crick resigned from the regulatory commission in 2002, she was replaced by Leroy King, whom Stanford is accused of bribing with millions of dollars and tickets to the National Football League’s Super Bowl championship games. When King was accused of complicity in hiding Stanford’s alleged fraud in 2009, the agency removed him and put Crick back in charge.

Crick was scheduled to resume her testimony today.

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