Texan billionaire Allen Stanford gets 110-year jail term
This Thursday witnessed the ex-tycoon and one-time cricket mogul Allen Stanford’s stunning fall from grace, when he was sentenced to 110 years in jail for a $7 billion swindle.
The verdict brought some satisfaction yet very little financial relief to 30,000 investors (victims) from around 100 nations, who were bilked by this fraudster by fake investments with Stanford International Bank over two decades.
R. Allen Stanford, 62, a billionaire financier had plotted one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in U.S. history. He used the money from investors and sold them the certificates of deposit of his bank on the Caribbean island nation of Antigua. He utilized their money to fund a string of failed business ventures, to bribe regulators, woo women and most importantly to spend on his flamboyant lifestyle, which included yachts, a fleet of private jets and sponsorship of cricket tournaments, reported The Chicago Tribune
The wealth brought power and influence with it, and soon he made his presence felt in the political circles. According to the guardian
, he was said to be close to the Bush family. He is also reported to have given $4,600 to President Barack Obama during his 2008 election campaign. Democrat and Republican politicians were also bestowed with over $1.8 million from his wealth pot.
The one-time billionaire was convicted in March, on 13 of 14 counts of frauds related to money laundering and conspiracy. He tried to flee to Antigua, his second home, after he learned that his business empire was on the verge of collapse.
Stanford was charged by the US Securities and Exchange Commission with fraud, and was arrested three years ago in June 2009 and so his lawyers asked for 44 months sentence this time, so that he could complete the sentence in just about eight more months as he had already served some-time in the jail. The trial was delayed because Stanford claimed that his memory had been destroyed due to the drugs and painkillers that he had to consume after he was badly beaten in a jail brawl, but the judge denied the request. In his defence he criticized the government for its “Gestapo tactics” saying they burned his assets down to zero and described his financial empire as a victim of the 2008 credit collapse.
"I am and will always be at peace with the way I conducted myself in business. I’m not here to ask for sympathy or forgiveness or to throw myself at your mercy,” Stanford told the court. "I did not run a Ponzi scheme. I didn’t defraud anybody” he said, reported The Miami Herald
Forbes magazine had ranked him as the 605th richest person
in the world. But, today he stands penniless as most of his funds were frozen by the court. The court has ordered him to pay back $5.9 billion but the most expected gesture from him by his victims was at least ‘an apology’ for all the wrong doing.
"It would have been really nice if he had turned around and said, `I am sorry,' to the victims," said Dorrell, 59, who lost over $1 million in the fraud, and further stated that the sentence handed down by U.S. District Judge David Hittner was "very well-deserved", reported The Huffington Post
Stanford never admitted his crime, instead he told the court: "If I live the rest of my life in prison, I will always be at peace with the way I conducted myself in business. I'm not a thief. I never defrauded anyone."
The Washington Post
reported: In the court, half of the gallery members were his victims whom he had treated like “roadkill”. Calling him a “ruthless predator” who stole from investors to satiate his greed and vanity, these victims had asked for a jail sentence for more than two centuries for him.
The founder of the Stanford Victims Coalition, Angela Shaw, said while she had hoped the financier would receive the maximum sentence, she was more upset that Stanford didn’t apologize in court for what he did.
“It would have gone a long way to show there is some level of remorse and some measure of humanity,” she said.
The mystery still continues to linger in the minds of many as to how he got away with this fraud for so long. The investigators could also not find 92 per cent of the $8 billion the bank said it had in assets and cash reserves.
Three other former Stanford executives are scheduled for trial in September. A former Antiguan financial regulator was prosecuted and awaits extradition to the United States.