Houston • Investors taken in by Texas tycoon R. Allen Stanford expressed relief and a sense of vindication after a federal jury last week convicted the jet-setting financier of swindling them out of more than $7 billion. But they said the verdict will never replace the loss of their life savings.
"He sentenced them to a life of hardship and poverty, and they have no chance to ever recover from what has happened to them," British retiree Kate Freeman said from her home in Antigua. She lost $820,000 in Stanford’s Ponzi scheme. "I don’t think [the verdict] will make a lot of difference with regard to victims seeing any money any sooner."
Two days after the verdict, a Texas jury cleared the way for U.S. authorities to go after $330 million in stolen investor funds sitting in frozen foreign bank accounts controlled by Stanford.
The jury, which convicted the former tycoon on 13 of 14 fraud-related counts earlier this week, found there to be sufficient evidence that the money in 29 accounts in Switzerland, Britain and Canada was some of the more than $7 billion he stole from investors over a period of 20 years. He was acquitted on a single count of wire fraud that accused him of bribing a regulator with Super Bowl tickets.
Even so, Angela Shaw, who founded the Stanford Victims Coalition after she and her husband lost $2 million in the scheme, called the verdict "bittersweet."
"Of course we wanted him to be convicted," she said. "In an ideal world, that would mean we would get some of our money back. But it doesn’t work that way."
The recovery process has been complicated by conflicts between authorities in securing Stanford’s assets, which are scattered across several countries. While Stanford once had a net worth estimated at more than $2 billion, he received court-appointed attorneys after his assets were seized or frozen.
Prosecutors say Stanford used investors’ money to fund a string of failed businesses, bribe regulators and pay for luxuries such as yachts and private jets. His attorneys portrayed Stanford as a visionary entrepreneur who made money for investors and conducted legitimate business deals.
The most serious charges against Stanford carry up to 20 years in prison, and if he is ordered to serve his sentences consecutively, the 61-year-old could spend the rest of his life behind bars. In a similar but unrelated case, disgraced financier Bernard Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison for orchestrating the largest Ponzi scheme in history.
U.S. District Judge David Hittner will likely set Stanford’s sentencing date after the civil trial, which started after the verdict Tuesday and could last as little as a full day.
Prosecutors and Stanford’s family declined to comment.
Stanford did not testify in his own defense.
Three other former Stanford executives are scheduled for trial in September.
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