Stanford International Bank, Ltd. (In Liquidation) – Invitation to Online Presentation for the creditors/victims on April 4 at 11:00 a.m. EDT / Stanford International Bank, Ltd. (en Liquidación) – In

Dear Creditors/Victims –
The Joint Liquidators of Stanford International Bank, Ltd. invite you to attend their 3rd online presentation:

  • LIVE Webinar featuring joint liquidators Marcus Wide & Hugh Dickson – The Joint Liquidators will be updating creditors/victims about the current status of the liquidation, reviewing the proof of debt claims process and responding to questions from creditors/victims who will have the opportunity to send in questions during the presentation.
  • Wednesday, April 4 at 11:00 a.m. EDT – presentation is expected to last approximately 1 hour.
  • Register today – limited spaces available – Please visit http://event.onlineseminarsolutions.com/r.htm?e=443905&s=1&k=8DBE903311CBF5B127C3F91B96064080 to complete registration. There is no cost for you to attend this presentation.
  • Please log-in to Webinar 10 minutes prior to start time.
  • You will also have the option of listening to the presentation in Spanish.

If you are unable to listen to the presentation on Wednesday, April 4 please note that the presentation will also be posted to the liquidation website (http://www.sibliquidation.com/) approximately 24 hours after the conclusion of the presentation.

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Allen Stanford, American Drug Lord

Posted on March 21, 2012 by dhopsicker

Missing from coverage of the conviction two weeks ago of Texas “financier”
Allen Stanford for running a $7 billion Ponzi scheme was any mention of Stanford’s long-time role as an authentic-if no longer certified-American Drug Lord.

“Sir” Allen (the title was bought) is an excellent example of a curiously under-publicized species: the American Drug Lord. (The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration claims the species doesn’t even exist; it may be they have their own reasons.)

To most observers in the Caribbean, however, Stanford’s narco-bank was as visible a manifestation of the global drug trade as a homemade semi-submersible submarine, or a convoy of SUV’s snaking through Sinaloa’s Sierra Madre Mountains.

Banks like his immodestly-named Stanford International Bank on the island of Antigua, where financial regulators are apparently even more easily-corrupted than their counterparts in the U.S., are as essential to global drug trafficking as fleets of late-model, preferably American-registered luxury jets.

“Every island has one,” one veteran Caribbean observer told us from Kingston Jamaica, referring to Stanford’s bank. “The days are mostly gone when you could walk in and lay out three suitcases of cash and get a penthouse condo on Miami Beach.”

“You can’t spend money you haven’t first deposited in a bank these days.”

It’s the little things

Conspicuously missing at Stanford’s trial were answers to questions widely being asked, especially in the Caribbean, where many lost their life savings, about Stanford’s relationship with the CIA.

Was Stanford’s bank in Antigua just the latest in a long line of money-laundering banks-like Castle Bank, Nugan Hand, and Wachovia-used to move money around by the CIA and organized crime?

One telling detail: when Stanford’s fellow Ponzi All-Star Art Nadel (of Huffman Aviation in Venice Florida fame) went on the lam, he lit out for Slidell, Louisiana, the legendary site of Carlos Marcello’s hunting lodge just outside New Orleans.

After Stanford went on the lam he was found in Fredericksburg, Virginia, just over the hill from “The Farm,” the training facility of one of the U.S.
Government’s most famous three-letter agencies at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico.

White kid gloves only, please

The kid-glove treatment accorded two of Stanford’s accomplices is another clue to Stanford’s provenance. Without their help, say observers, Stanford’s operation would have been shut down as much as a decade earlier.

Both were high-level U.S. Federal Agency employees, one in the DEA, the other in the SEC, America’s Securities Exchange Commission, charged with preventing financial fraud.

Neither Agency has exactly covered itself in glory in living memory.

In the $3 trillion financial heist in 2008, the SEC, unfortunately, got there a little late.

And in the now 40-year old War on Drugs, the DEA cannot be said to be “shock and awe-ing” the global drug trade into anything like submission.

In the aftermath of Stanford’s arrest, the two former high-level Federal employees fared pretty well. One, deeply and criminally implicated by numerous sources, paid just a $50,000 fine, and never even faced criminal charges.

And when the second one did face criminal charges, a miracle occurred.

The ‘Immaculate Acquittal’

It’s morning in Miami. Tuesday the 10th of February, 2010. Inside the Federal Courthouse downtown something extremely rare is about to take place:
a miracle, at least the closest thing to a miracle veteran court-watchers have seen in a long time.

It comes at the end of the trial of Thomas Raffanello, Allen Stanford’s Chief of Security, and the long-time chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Miami office. Before joining Stanford, Raffanello led investigations against Manuel Noriega and the Medellin Cartel.

There has long been speculation about Stanford’s connections with the world of “los narcos.” But Raffanello is the one verifiable link between Allen Stanford and the global drug trade.

Raffanello, accused of illegally shredding documents at Stanford Financial Group after Stanford’s arrest, was taken to a Fort Lauderdale federal courtroom in shackles, facing charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and destroying records.

But he had committed no crime, his lawyers said in a court filing. He was simply ‘taking out the garbage.’

On the morning of February 10, 2010, Raffanello sat in court awaiting the jury’s verdict as the jury asked for clarification on one of the charges.
Then, after they retired to continue their deliberations, Judge Richard Goldberg ordered the charges dismissed.

Lawyers called the ruling extremely rare, almost unprecedented. “Something smells here,” said one courtroom observer afterwards.

It was the Immaculate Acquittal.

“Judges always wait for the jury to finish deliberations. If the jury finds the defendant not guilty, case closed. If they find him guilty, the judge has the power to over turn the conviction. But in that case the judge proclaims, ‘Judgment notwithstanding the verdict.'”

“We witnessed a miracle,” said one of Raffanello’s defense attorneys, Janice Burton Sharpstein.

It’s a small world, after all

Sharpstein is married to Richard Sharpstein, a Miami attorney who represented one of the trigger men in the assassination of Barry Seal in Baton Rouge Louisiana in 1986.

We interviewed him while researching “Barry & the Boys.” But the story he told us speaks volumes about the world of Allen Stanford.

“Why was Barry Seal murdered?” we asked.

“Seal had been irate when the IRS seized all his property,” Sharstein related. “The IRS man said to Seal, ‘You owe us $30 million for the money you made drug smuggling.”

“Hey, I work for you,” was Seal’s reply. “We both work for the same people.”

“You don’t work for us,” the IRS agent replied. “We’re the IRS.”

“Then Unglesby (Seal’s attorney) watched as Seal place a call to (then-Vice
President) George Bush,” Sharpstein stated.

“He heard Barry say, ‘If you don’t get these assholes off my back I’m going to blow the whistle on the Contra scheme.”

“What Unglesby says is, ‘That’s why he’s dead.’

Allen Stanford isn’t dead. But he pissed somebody off bad enough to make him wish he were.

Liquidator Explains Role in Congress Affair

Thursday, 22 March 2012 Caribarena news Antigua News

Antigua St John’s – Marcus Wide, managing director at Grant Thornton, has
said although his firm assisted the US Congressmen involved in the petition
to investigate the Antigua government’s potential involvement in the US$7
billion Stanford Ponzi Scheme, his office does not prosecute criminal
matters.

But it will be pursuing all “improper transactions” made by Stanford
International Bank (SIB).

In an exclusive interview with Caribarena.com on Wednesday, Wide confirmed
that his office had assisted the US Congressmen with the liquidation and its independence from the Government of Antigua.

He said too that the office of Grant Thornton, which was appointed on May
13, 2011 by Justice Mario Michel of the Eastern Caribbean High Court, as the new liquidators of Stanford International Bank Ltd, had even “corrected some factual information in relation to the liquidation in the original resolution”.

Caribarena.com asked the liquidator whether his office intends to file any
charges in Antigua & Barbuda or go after any political contributions, legal
fees, or even the cricket prizes lavishly handed out by Stanford while a
knight in the country.

“We are not criminal prosecutors, so unless we believe we can win and
collect, it would not be proper to spend money that would otherwise be
available to the depositors and victims,” Wide said.

He added, however, that Grant Thornton intends to pursue all “improper”
transactions where it is commercially reasonable to do so.

“This includes assessing the quality of the evidence about the transaction,
an assessment of the law, and chances of success in court, and an assessment of our ability to enforce the judgment and recover money for the benefit of the estate,” Wide said.

The liquidator pointed out, however, that his firm does not intend to
duplicate claims already made by receiver Ralph Janvey.

Regarding the general position taken by Grant Thornton on the move by the US Congressmen, Wide said, “We have no position or comment on any dispute
between the Government of Antigua and the Government of the United States of America.”

Law firms lose one defense against Ponzi scheme class actions

By Terry Baynes
Thomson Reuters News & Insight

Law firms that represented and advised convicted Ponzi-schemer Allen Stanford may be on the hook for millions of dollars lost in the bogus investment scheme and could face class actions by investors seeking to recoup losses.

On Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled that federal securities law does not prevent state class actions against lawyers and firms accused of helping Stanford. The ruling overturns a lower-court decision holding that the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act, or SLUSA, prevents class actions alleging securities fraud from being brought under state law.

The 5th Circuit decision is a setback for the New York-based law firms Proskauer Rose and Chadbourne & Parke as well as attorney Thomas Sjoblom, who worked at both firms. The class actions, filed under state law, accuse Sjoblom, Stanford’s former lawyer, of obstructing an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. They also allege that Proskauer and Chadbourne were negligent for employing Sjoblom and that the firms are responsible for his wrongdoing.

The appeals court’s decision turned on the relationship between the alleged fraud and the purchase or sale of securities.

Plaintiff investors filed the cases under state law because they had little other choice. Federal law does not allow plaintiffs to bring claims for negligence or claims for aiding and abetting fraud. What’s more, the 2008 Supreme Court case, Stoneridge v. Scientific-Atlanta, created barriers to using federal securities law to sue law firms that represented accused swindlers.

“When you have a case like this, suing aiders and abettors, the only way to do it is to sue under state law,” said Edward Snyder, a lawyer for the investors, who filed the 5th Circuit suit under Texas law.

Yet SLUSA, passed in 1998, prevents fraud suits involving nationally-traded securities from being brought under state law. Proskauer, Chadborne, Sjoblom and other defendants in the 5th Circuit case had tried to use SLUSA to block the Stanford investors’ claims.

In Ponzi schemes such as Stanford’s, investors are often betting on some kind of uncovered security, such as a certificate of deposit or feeder fund. Therefore, much of the courtroom wrangling has centered on the meaning of the phrase, “in connection with” a covered security.

In October, Dallas federal judge David Godbey ruled that SLUSA did preclude state law class actions. Godbey found that investors were led to think that they were investing in certificates of deposit with a bank whose portfolio included covered securities. In addition, many of the investors sold securities to invest in the CDs. Those facts were enough to bar the case under SLUSA, Godbey ruled. But the 5th Circuit disagreed.

“The misrepresentations made by the Proskauer Defendants are not more than tangentially related to the purchase or sale of covered securities and therefore, SLUSA preclusion does not apply,” Judge Edward Prado wrote for the three-judge panel.

The 5th Circuit is the first federal appeals court to address whether SLUSA applies in the context of a Ponzi scheme, according to Phillip Preis, a lawyer for some of the investors. The panel did consider several conflicting decisions from a federal court in the Southern District of New York, related to the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme. The 2nd Circuit has yet to rule in any of those cases.

“In the whole area of Ponzi schemes, it’s an important decision,” said the plaintiffs’ lawyer Snyder. He said judges have tended to expand the reach of SLUSA to block class actions over the years. “Finally, the 5th circuit stood up and put up a firewall,” he said, adding that the decision allows a separate class action against law firm Adams and Reese to also proceed.

In a statement, Proskauer said it still has numerous other defenses at its disposal that the court did not consider.

Chadbourne said in a statement, “We moved to dismiss this case on many grounds, not just SLUSA… The district court will now have to address all those other issues.”

The defendants have argued that they have immunity because they were acting as counsel to Stanford. They also claim that they had no duty to Stanford’s investors and no fraudulent intent.

Sjoblom, who was an assistant chief litigation counsel at the SEC from 1987 to 1999, declined to comment on the litigation. He was a partner at Proskauer from 2006 to 2009 and at Chadbourne from 2002 to 2006, according to the website of the Law Office of Thomas V. Sjoblom in Washington, D.C.

The investors’ class action against the law firms and Sjoblom is Troice et al v. Proskauer Rose et al, U.S. Court of Appeal for the 5th Circuit, No. 11-11031.

For the plaintiffs: Edward Snyder of Castillo Snyder.

For Proskauer: James Rouhandeh of Davis Polk & Wardwell.

For Chadbourne: Daniel Beller of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.

For Sjoblom: Mindy Caplan of McKenna, Long & Aldridge; William Mateja of Fish & Richardson.

Stanford’s Victims, Part 2

by: Andrew Schneider

More than three years have passed since R. Allen Stanford’s financial empire was revealed as a massive Ponzi scheme. In the second of a two part series, KUHF business reporter Andrew Schneider looks at the hurdles investors face in trying to recover even a fraction of their losses.

Last year, the Securities & Exchange Commission ruled the Securities Investor Protection Corporation liable for the losses of Stanford investors. Stanford Group Company, the Houston-based broker-dealer that sold certificates of deposits in Stanford International Bank, was a SIPC member. The SEC is now suing SIPC to force it to comply.

Stephen Harbeck is SIPC’s president. He says it’s clear Stanford’s victims suffered a terrible wrong. But he says correcting that wrong is not SIPC’s responsibility.

“The losses are in the billions of dollars, more money than SIPC has, and we view this as a dramatic changing of our mission by the SEC.”

Harbeck says SIPC’s mandate is strictly to make good on funds in the hands of brokers. That’s why SIPC helped investors in the case of Bernie Madoff, the only Ponzi scheme larger than Stanford’s.

“Contrast that with the Stanford situation, where the Stanford victims instructed them to send their cash to the nation of Antigua, where he had a bank, and that bank issued them physical securities.”

Harbeck says the proper place for Stanford’s victims to seek relief is with SEC-appointed receiver Ralph Janvey and accounting firm Grant Thornton, court-appointed liquidator for Antigua. The two are competing to recover hundreds of millions of dollars from Stanford accounts scattered around the world. Kevin Sadler of Baker Botts is Janvey’s lead attorney.

“Although we’ve tried very hard to find a way to reach agreement with the court-appointed folks from Antigua, it’s just proved to be impossible given their desire to take control of literally all the foreign assets and bring them back to Antigua.”

Marcus Wide is one of two Grant Thornton accountants named as Stanford’s liquidators by Antigua.

“At this point, the suggestion from the US receiver is that he doesn’t need our help. All he wants to do is to share some information and proceed on that basis. The fact there are large contingency fees out there to be earned may be some part of that problem.”

Angela Shaw, founder of the Stanford Victims Coalition, says the fight between the US receiver and the Antiguan liquidator risks consuming whatever funds Stanford left behind.

“This international turf war has cost investors tens of millions of dollars.”

Shaw’s group is pursuing restitution on other fronts as well. Yesterday, a federal appeals court in Houston gave the green light to a trio of class action suits the group has filed against individuals and companies it claims aided in the Stanford scheme. But the court battles over Stanford’s assets could potentially drag on for years. Given the number of investors who are retirees, that’s time many of the victims don’t have.