7 Mar 2012

Allen Stanford guilty of bilking investors of billions

2:24 pm on 7 March 2012

The former American financier Allen Stanford has been convicted of running a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme.

Stanford, 61, was found guilty on Tuesday on 13 charges, including fraud, conspiracy and obstructing an investigation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

At trial, prosecutors told how he repeatedly raided the bank he owned in Antigua, Stanford International Bank, using it as his "personal ATM."

With the money, Stanford bought a castle in Florida for one of his girlfriends and bankrolled a $US20 million for an international cricket tournament in the Caribbean.

The United States government closed down Stanford's financial empire in February 2009 and the financier was arrested in June that year.

The charges carry a potential prison sentence of more than 200 years if the terms are served consecutively, but Stanford is more likely to face a maximum of about 20 years if, as is typical in white-collar cases, he is sentenced to concurrent prison terms.

Most of Stanford's victims have had none of the money they invested in Stanford's certificates of deposit back, though prosecutors are trying to seize more than $US300 million in offshore assets tied to Stanford and other entities that have been frozen.

The case was the biggest financial fraud since Bernard Madoff pleaded guilty in 2009 to orchestrating what prosecutors have called a $US64.8 billion Ponzi scheme. He is serving a 150-year prison sentence.