Louisiana officials want release of SEC report in Stanford case

A Louisiana senator told officials of the Securities and Exchange Commission Friday that he wants immediate release of a year-old report by the commission’s inspector general on efforts to recover money for victims of a multibillion-dollar fraud.

U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., described as incompetent efforts by a court-appointed receiver to find and distribute assets of convicted con man Robert Allen Stanford.

Stanford, 63, of Houston, is serving a 110-year prison sentence for a fraud conviction that followed estimated worldwide losses of approximately $7 billion. About $1 billion of those losses were from about 1,000 investors in the Baton Rouge, Lafayette and Covington areas, according to estimates by state Sen. Bodi White, R-Central, and Baton Rouge attorney Phillip W. Preis.

“The fraud caused an absolute tragedy for many Louisiana families who invested their hard-earned retirement savings in good faith that it would be there for them when they retired,” Vitter said Friday in a letter to Mary Jo White, who chairs the SEC.

Vitter said the receiver in the case, Dallas attorney Ralph Janvey, spent $100 million to collect $55 million for Stanford’s victims.

“In the best light, Janvey’s actions can only be seen as incompetent,” Vitter told White in that letter. He urged White to release the SEC inspector general’s report on Janvey, noting that it was completed in March 2012.

There are more than 20,000 Stanford victims across more than 100 countries.

A retired Zachary couple, Louis and Kathy Mier, saw $240,000 of their savings stolen by Stanford’s fraudulent scheme.

“Whatever any of our congressmen do to shed light on the truth of what happened, and whatever they can do to help us get our money back and be whole again, would make Louis and me very, very happy,” Kathy Mier said Friday.

John J. Nester, a spokesman for the SEC, said in an email Friday that neither he nor other SEC officials would comment on Vitter’s request before White issues a response to the senator’s letter.

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., released a statement through her staff: “The Stanford victims deserve answers, and the immediate release of the IG’s report is the very least the SEC can do.”

U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R.-Baton Rouge, said through his staff: “I strongly urge the SEC … to release the full results of the inspector general’s report. The victims of this crime were hard working Louisiana families, and they are entitled to see the details of the report.”

Vitter noted that Janvey, against the SEC’s wishes, unsuccessfully sued some Stanford victims in an effort to seize money those victims retrieved before Stanford’s operations were shut down in February 2009.

“Given the demonstrated incompetence of the court-appointed receiver, it makes you wonder how bad this (inspector general’s) report gets,” Vitter added. “The Stanford victims deserve to see.”