Cricket mogul Stanford found guilty of $7 bn Ponzi scheme

Financier and cricket mogul Allen Stanford was found guilty by a US jury of a $7 billion Ponzi scheme Tuesday, closing the book on the flamboyant ex-tycoon's remarkable fall from grace.

Updated: August 18, 2014 22:19 IST
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Houston: Financier and cricket mogul Allen Stanford was found guilty by a US jury of a $7 billion Ponzi scheme Tuesday, closing the book on the flamboyant ex-tycoon's remarkable fall from grace.

The verdict will bring some satisfaction -- but likely little financial relief -- to 30,000 investors from more than 100 countries who were bilked by bogus investments with Stanford International Bank.

Investigators could not find 92 percent of the $8 billion the bank said it had in assets and cash reserves.

Stanford, 61, has spent the past three years in jail after being deemed a flight risk. He may never taste freedom again.

Jurors found the mustachioed Texan guilty of 13 of 14 counts of fraud, conspiracy, money laundering and obstruction of justice which each carry maximum sentences of five to 20 years in jail.

Even if a judge decides Stanford should receive concurrent sentences on the 13 counts at an upcoming hearing, he will likely still face 20 years in a federal prison.

Stanford remained stoic as the guilty verdicts were read, but his elderly mother, two adult daughters and a family friend dropped their heads into their hands in dismay.

His lawyers told reporters the verdict was a "disappointment" and vowed to appeal. Prosecution attorneys left the courtroom quickly, and were not immediately available for comment.

Cassie Wilkinson, one of Stanford's victims, said Tuesday was a day she has long awaited.

"We were taken advantage of not just by Allen, but by a whole band of crooks," she said. "It's great to know there were 12 jurors who felt the same way."

The only non-guilty verdict was returned on Count 2, in which Stanford was charged with wire fraud for allegedly purchasing $9,000 Super Bowl tickets for Antiguan bank regulator, Leroy King.

Badly beaten in a jailhouse brawl, Stanford was temporarily declared unfit for trial after he became addicted to painkillers while also on antidepressants.

He tried to have his case completely dismissed after claiming that the beating and drugs destroyed his memory, but the judge refused to believe him.

Defense attorneys at trial tried to shift the blame to former chief financial officer James Davis, who they accused of perpetrating the entire fraud while Stanford naively placed his trust in his former college roommate.

They also insisted the bulk of investor money was lost due to mismanagement by court-appointed receivers after the US government seized the bank.

Prosecutors scoffed at the notion, and said Stanford funded his lavish lifestyle by siphoning off $2 billion in investor deposits while pushing "bogus" certificates of deposits which promised artificially high returns based on "safe" investments.

As a dual citizen of the United States and the Caribbean country of Antigua and Barbuda, Stanford was known for his largesse, especially on the two paradise islands.

He received a knighthood in 2006 from Antigua, where he was the largest employer, and rose to global prominence in 2008 by creating the Stanford 20/20 cricket tournament, which captured a television audience of 300 million.

His personal fiefdom soon began to crumble when it attracted scrutiny from financial regulators. Stanford was charged by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with fraud in February 2009 and arrested a few months later at his girlfriend's home in the state of Virginia.

With a fortune of $2.2 billion, Forbes Magazine ranked Stanford as the 605th richest person in the world in 2006.

After most of those funds were frozen by the courts, Stanford was forced to accept appointed counsel.

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