Thursday, March 8, 2012

Allen Stanford

Allen Stanford (born March 24, 1950) is a former prominent financier and sponsor of professional sports who is in prison awaiting sentencing, having been convicted of charges that his investment company was a massive Ponzi scheme and fraud. Stanford was the chairman of the now defunct Stanford Financial Group of Companies. A fifth-generation Texan who once resided in Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, he holds dual citizenship, being a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda and the United States.

In early 2009, Stanford became the subject of several fraud investigations, and on February 17, 2009, was charged by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with fraud and multiple violations of U.S. securities laws for alleged "massive ongoing fraud" involving $8 billion in certificates of deposits. The FBI raided three of Stanford's offices in Houston, Memphis, and Tupelo, Mississippi. On February 27, 2009, the SEC amended its complaint to describe the alleged fraud as a "massive Ponzi scheme". He "voluntarily surrendered" to authorities on June 18, 2009. On March 6, 2012, Stanford was convicted on all charges except a single count of wire fraud.

Early Years
Stanford grew up in Mexia, Texas. His father, James Stanford, is former mayor of Mexia and a member of the Board of Directors of Stanford Financial Group. His mother, Sammie, is a nurse. After his parents divorced in 1959, Stanford and his brother went to live with their mother. Both of his parents remarried.

Stanford graduated from Eastern Hills High School in Fort Worth, Texas. In 1974, Stanford graduated from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, earning a B.A. degree in finance.

Stanford started in business in Waco, Texas, opening a bodybuilding gym that failed. His first success in business came from speculating in real estate in Houston after the Texan oil bubble burst in the early 1980s; his partner in this venture was his father, James: the two men made a fortune in the 1980s, buying up depressed real estate and selling it years later as the market recovered. After his father retired in 1993, Stanford took control of a company with 500 employees.

Stanford moved to the Caribbean in the 1980s, first to Montserrat, then to Antigua. With Stanford Finance, he started a bank on the island of Montserrat in 1985, Guardian International Bank; he moved it to Antigua during a British crackdown on Montserrat's offshore-banking industry in the 1980s, renaming it Stanford International Bank, an affiliate of Stanford Financial.

Early in 2007, Stanford and Baldwin Spencer, prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda and formerly an ally, began verbally feuding in public.

In 2009, Antigua's Financial Services Regulatory Commission named a British firm, Vantis Business Recovery Services, the receiver for Stanford International Bank and Stanford Trust Company, the Associated Press reported.

Knighthood and revocation
A February 2009 Houston Chronicle article described Stanford as "the leading benefactor, promoter, employer and public persona" of Antigua and Barbuda. On November 1, 2006, Stanford was appointed by Queen Elizabeth II as Knight Commander of the Order of the Nation (KCN) of Antigua and Barbuda. Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, joined the then Governor-General of Antigua and Barbuda, Sir James Carlisle, to make this announcement during the Silver Jubilee Independence Day Celebration. Being knighted, Stanford used the title "Sir Allen" often; he was also generally referred as such by Antiguans and internationally. In October 2009, the National Honours Committee of Antigua and Barbuda voted unanimously to strip Stanford of his knighthood, and informed the prime minister of this decision on October 26. On November 2, 2009, the recommendation was forwarded to the then Governor-General, Sir James Carlisle. The order to revoke Stanford's knighthood and insignia was approved and was served upon Stanford on April 1, 2010, after Governor-General Dame Louise Lake-Tack signed the order revoking his knighthood.

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