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Articles Tagged with Stanford Ponzi scam

A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) panel has ordered Pershing, LLC to pay $1.4m to six investors who lost money in R. Allen Stanford’s $7.2B Ponzi scam. Pershing is a Bank of New York Mellon Corp. (BK) division. It acted as Stanford Group Co.’s clearing broker for several years.

Pershing is accused of enabling the Stanford Ponzi Fraud, including through its transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars from US investors’ securities accounts, as it continued to make money from the sales of at least $500M in fake, unregistered certificates of deposit (CDs).

Pershing also allegedly disregarded the unusual ways in which Stanford ran his operations, including the use of offshore transfers and the high compensation awarded to brokers. The unregistered CDs were issued out of Stanford International Bank, a Stanford Financial Group unit based in Antigua, and then sold by Stanford’s brokerage firm in the US.

$20M Ponzi Scam Results in Guilty Plea for Kiddar Capital Founder

Todd Hitt, Kiddar Capital’s founder and a member of a prominent commercial real estate family in Virginia, has pleaded guilty to criminal fraud charges accusing him of operating a $20M Ponzi fraud that involved several schemes. According to prosecutors, Hitt solicited about $30M from investors and then proceeded to use most of the money to fund his lavish lifestyle while using newer investors’ funds to pay older investors. He also allegedly made “false statements and material omissions” to investors when he didn’t tell them that their money was comingled with unrelated projects and not just the real estate and venture capital investments for which their funds were supposedly designated.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia contends that because of Hitt’s “fraudulent conduct,” investors lost about $20M. He is facing up to 20 years behind bars and is expected to pay a fine of millions of dollars. He previously settled related civil fraud charges filed against him by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Four years after Allen Stanford’s $7 billion Ponzi scam was uncovered in 2009, investors who lost money in the scheme are still trying to recover their funds. The 65-year-old Stanford is serving 110-years behind bars for selling investors bogus high-yield CD’s through his Stanford International Bank based in Antigua. Prosecutors said he used customers’ money to fund his expensive lifestyle.

This week, U.S. District Judge David Godbey in Dallas said that law firms Proskauer Rose and Chadborne & Parke will have to contend with claims brought by a committee of these investors and Ralph S. Janvey, the court-appointed receiver for Allen Stanford’s companies.

Chadborne and Prosakuer had sought to have this lawsuit, which seeks to hold the two law firms liable for legal malpractice, dismissed. The plaintiffs contend that Thomas Sjoblom, who worked at the two firms, allegedly obstructed regulator probes into the Ponzi Scam and helped Stanford conceal the SEC’s investigation from auditors.

Now, the Texas-based judge has decided that Janvey and the investor committee can pursue claims of negligent supervision, professional negligence, civil conspiracy, and aiding and abetting fraud against the two firms. Judge Godbey stated that the allegations suggest that Sjobolm knew that Stanford was potentially running a Ponzi scam, and this awareness was imputed to both firms. Godbey said that the plaintiffs have alleged that the defendants knew that Stanford was engaged in sufficient wrongdoing.
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The Securities and Exchange Commission has said that it no longer intends to continue trying to get the Securities Investor Protection Corporation to pay back investors the losses they sustained in R. Allen Stanford’s $7 billion Ponzi scam. The decision comes after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the regulator failed to prove that the scheme’s victims were “customers” eligible for compensation by the SIPC. That decision upheld an earlier ruling by a district court in 2012.

Even though the SEC is no longer seeking to compel the brokerage industry insurance fund to pay the investors, the agency says it is committed to the victims and will keep working with the U.S. Department of Justice, the Stanford Receiver, and others in an effort to maximize investor recovery.

SIPC keeps a special fund to pay back investors if their securities and cash were lost when a brokerage failed. The agency, however, said it couldn’t compensate the Stanford Ponzi scam victims because their losses were not a result of a broker-dealer failing but due to their purchase of CDs from a foreign bank-assets that they are still holding and now have no value.

Nearly three years after he was indicted for defrauding investors in a $7.2 billion Ponzi scam involving certificates of deposit that are now worthless, a Houston jury has convicted R. Allen Stanford of 13 of 14 criminal counts, including fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit wire or mail fraud, wire fraud (from April 24, 2006, December 24, 2008, January 5, 2009, and February 12, 2009), mail fraud, and obstructing investigators. The only count jury members found him not guilty of was wire fraud (from February 2, 2006). Collectively, the Texas financier’s convictions carry prison sentences totaling up to 230 years.

Prosecutors depicted Stanford, 61, as a con man that used investors’ money to get very rich and pay for his businesses. (At one point, his net worth was over $2 billion.) They also say he bribed regulators so he could get away with his scam.

During his criminal trial, financial statements e-mails that were presented as evidence and ex-employees who testified helped paint a picture of the Texan as someone who spent 20 years defrauding investors by selling CDs through his bank in Antigua. James M. Davis, who served as former CFO for Stanford’s different companies, also was a witness for the prosecution. He stated that he and Stanford together falsified annual reports, bank records, and other documents to hide the fraud. Prosecutors contended that Stanford lied to depositors from over 100 nations by claiming that their cash was being invested in bonds, stocks, and other securities.

The Securities Investor Protection Corp. is asking the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to reject the SEC’s request for an order that would make it pay back the victim of Texas financier R. Allen Stanford’s $7 Billion Ponzi scam. The brokerage industry-funded nonprofit claims that the Commission has not demonstrated that these investors are eligible to receive this type of coverage from SIPC.

Standing by SIPC is the National Association of Independent Broker/Dealers. The group wrote a letter to SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro contending that forcing the nonprofit to pay back Stanford’s victims is not only a “misfit solution,” but also, it will establish an “unsustainable precedent.”

The SEC’s securities lawsuit against SIPC is an attempt to force a brokerage’s liquidation, which is the first step that SIPC must take under the Securities Investor Protection Act to pay back the clients of its member firms. SIPC, however, has refused to do so on the grounds that Stanford International Bank, which is based in Antigua, is not one if its member firms. Stanford International Bank is the financial firm that issued the more than $7.2 billion CDs that were sold to investors. (It is Stanford Group Co. that belongs to SIPC.) The CDs now have no value.

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