Stanford victims would get 1% of their losses
By Bill Lodge
Advocate staff writer
January 15, 2013
Thousands of investors in Louisiana and other states and countries could receive interim payments totaling one percent of more than $5 billion alleged to have been stolen by convicted con man Robert Allen Stanford, court records show.
Dallas attorney Ralph Janvey, court-appointed receiver responsible for locating and seizing Stanford’s assets, asked a federal judge in that city Friday to approve the release of $55 million for the interim payments to victims. They would be the first payments to victims since federal officials shut down Stanford’s operations in February 2009.
In Baton Rouge, Phillip W. Preis, attorney for scores of Stanford victims, said Monday that Janvey’s request would leave more than $200 million in receivership assets for future distributions.
“I don’t know why he (Janvey) didn’t ask to release the rest now,” Preis said.
Stanford, who maintains he is innocent, was convicted last year in Houston on federal fraud charges and sentenced to a prison term of 110 years. He has been in custody since June 2009.
According to the Securities and Exchange Commission and federal prosecutors, Stanford and some of his employees stole more than $7 billion from more than 20,000 investors.
Janvey, however, told U.S. District Judge David Godbey, of Dallas, that many investor claims are duplicative. Janvey estimated unduplicated loss claims at more than $5 billion.
Janvey asked Godbey to approve his request for distribution on a pro rata basis. For example, a Stanford investor who lost $500,000 to Stanford’s fraud would be able to recover $5,000 from the proposed interim distribution. A person who lost $1 million would receive $10,000.
Preis and state Sen. Bodi White, a Republican from Central, have estimated that approximately 1,000 residents of the Baton Rouge, Lafayette and Covington areas lost about $1 billion to Stanford.
Some of those people lost millions of dollars, according to court records and testimony.
The assets recovered by Janvey are dwarfed by losses suffered by investors, many of whom are older people who lost much of their retirement savings.
In a related lawsuit, the SEC is attempting to force the Securities Investor Protection Corp. to cover up to $500,000 of each investor’s documented loss. The SIPC is federally chartered, but funded by the financial services industry.
The SEC has supervisory authority over SIPC, which was created by Congress more than 40 years ago. The Stanford case is the first in which SIPC has refused to honor the SEC’s directive to cover defrauded investors’ losses.
The SEC lost a bid in federal court in Washington, D.C., last year to force the SIPC to allow the liquidation of all Stanford assets under the receivership in Dallas. On Friday, the SEC filed its appeal of that decision in the federal appellate court for the District of Columbia.
The SIPC had argued that Stanford investors lost money they deposited with Stanford International Bank on the Caribbean island of Antigua. SIPC attorneys noted the bank was not one of its members. Therefore, SIPC attorneys said, SIPC was not obligated to help Stanford investors.
Preis, however, said Monday that most Stanford investors placed their money with Stanford Group Co., or SGC, which was a member of the SIPC. Investors’ money later was transferred to the bank.
Michael L. Post, senior litigation counsel for the SEC, added in Friday’s appeal: “During the five-year period from 2004 through 2008, approximately $628 million in investor funds were diverted back to SGC” from money earmarked for the bank.
Post added that money from the bank deposits was “diverted for Stanford’s personal use, disbursed to Stanford-controlled entities (including SGC), used (for) other investments.”
The SEC appeal argued that SIPC should be ordered by the courts to refer all Stanford issues to Godbey in Texas and request that all Stanford companies be liquidated.
Godbey already has ruled that all of Stanford’s companies were involved in one enormous fraud, Preis said. Because of that ruling, Preis said, it is likely Godbey “would rule in favor of the investors.”