Sat, Jun 16, 2012 - Page 7 News List

Stanford gets 110 years for role in US$7bn swindle


Former jet-setting Texas tycoon R. Allen Stanford had plenty of things to say before a US federal judge sentenced him to 110 years in prison for bilking investors out of more than US$7 billion over two decades — an apology was not one of them.

In a defiant, rambling statement that lasted more than 40 minutes, Stanford told the court on Thursday about the injuries he suffered during a prison fight; accused the government of “gestapo tactics” when his companies were put in receivership and their assets sold off to pay back investors; described his financial empire as a victim of the 2008 credit collapse; and recalled riding horses with former US president George W. Bush.

“I am and will always be at peace with the way I conducted myself in business,” he said before the judge sentenced him.

Prosecutors said Stanford, 62, used the money from investors who bought certificates of deposit from his bank on the Caribbean island nation of Antigua to fund a string of failed businesses, bribe regulators and pay for a lavish lifestyle that included yachts, a fleet of private jets and sponsorship of cricket tournaments. The one-time billionaire was convicted in March on 13 of 14 fraud-related counts in one of the largest Ponzi schemes in US history.

Houston retiree Sandra Dorrell, who lost more than US$1 million in the fraud, said Stanford’s statement to the court showed the financier cared only about himself and would never admit any wrongdoing.

“It would have been really nice if he had turned around and said: ‘I am sorry,’ to the victims,” said Dorrell, 59, adding that the sentence handed down by US District Judge David Hittner was “very well-deserved.”

Prosecutors had asked that Stanford be sentenced to 230 years in prison, the maximum sentence possible. Stanford’s attorneys had asked for a maximum of 41 months, a sentence he could have completed within about five months because he has been jailed since his arrest in June 2009.

Stanford’s convictions for conspiracy as well as wire and mail fraud followed a seven-week trial.

During Thursday’s hearing, Stanford remained defiant, insisting his business empire was legitimate and that he “worked tirelessly and honestly.”

“I did not run a Ponzi scheme. I didn’t defraud anybody,” Stanford said.

Prosecutor William Stellmach chastised Stanford for his lack of remorse for defrauding thousands of people of their life savings and preventing them from being able to send their kids to college or to get needed medical treatment.

“To the bitter end, he was a con man and a coward,” Stellmach told the court.

Hittner allowed two people to speak on behalf of the victims during the sentencing hearing.

Angela Shaw, a Dallas-area woman who founded the Stanford Victims Coalition after three generations of her family lost US$4.5 million in the fraud, said the financier’s “heinous crime” has taken a “staggering toll on victims around the world.”

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