Investors plan appeal of Stanford lawsuit dismissal

Note. This is NOT the lawsuit being brought against the SEC by Kachroo Legal Services.

A federal appeals court will be asked to reverse a Baton Rouge federal judge’s dismissal of a lawsuit that claims the Securities and Exchange Commission and a former official knew of Robert Allen Stanford’s $7 billion fraud scheme but failed to investigate and stop it, an attorney for some victims said Friday.

The suit, filed in July by seven Baton Rouge residents and firms, was thrown out June 21 by U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick at the request of the federal government, which argued the SEC enjoys complete discretion in deciding what matters to investigate.

The suit alleges that Spencer Barasch, a former SEC regional enforcement director in Fort Worth, Texas, was negligent and engaged in deliberate misconduct in failing to investigate the scheme before investors suffered losses. The suit contends Barasch knew of the Stanford scheme but refused to probe it, allowing the continued defrauding of investors.

In his written ruling, Dick called Barasch’s alleged conduct “disturbing” but said the law supports the government’s position that there was no statute, regulation or policy that required Barasch to make an enforcement referral to either the National Association of Securities Dealers or the Texas State Securities Board.

“While the court sympathizes with the losses suffered by the plaintiffs in this matter, plaintiffs have failed to identify any mandatory obligations violated by SEC employees in the performance of their discretionary duties,” the judge wrote.

Ed Gonzales, an attorney for the seven Baton Rouge residents and firms who filed suit in federal district court in Baton Rouge, said an appeal will be filed at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. Those plaintiffs say they lost roughly $3.5 million to the scheme.

Dick’s ruling described the suit’s plaintiffs as victims of a Ponzi scheme who lost their investments in Stanford International Bank Ltd.

The suit alleges the SEC knew in 1997 that Stanford was operating a fraudulent scheme and failed to stop him until February 2009.

Robert 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 Phil Preis, who represents numerous Stanford victims in another lawsuit.

A Ponzi scheme is a fake investment program. Illegal operators skim most of the money provided by people who believe they are investors.

Early investors receive dividends that actually are small portions of their personal funds and those of later investors. Stanford’s Ponzi scheme attracted investment money for his Stanford International Bank on the Caribbean island of Antigua.

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

 

Visit the Stanford International Victims Group – SIVG

official forum http://sivg.org.ag/

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$83.5M Suit Says Willis Group Aided Stanford Fraud

A group of holders of Stanford Financial Group CD accounts claims that Willis Group Holdings Public Limited Co. helped perpetuate Robert Allen Stanford’s $7 billion Ponzi scheme, according to an $83.5 million class action removed from Florida state court Monday.

The plaintiffs, 64 citizens of El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, the United States and Spain who claim combined losses of more than $83.5 million, say that when they made their investments in Stanford Financial CDs, they relied on “safety and soundness” letters issued by Willis asserting that Stanford International Bank and its products were protected by certain insurance policies and were highly liquid.

“In fact, the Stanford Financial CDs were not CDs at all, but unregistered, unregulated securities sold illegally from Stanford Financial’s home base in the United States,” the plaintiffs say in their complaint. “These investments had no insurance and were fraught with risk.”

The case is not the first to lay such accusations against Willis. In 2009, a class of between 1,200 and 5,000 Venezuelan clients sought $1.6 billion over claims they were allegedly lured into the scheme by the insurance brokers’ assurance that Stanford CDs were sound, insured investments. And in another suit that year, Mexican investors implicated Willis, claiming the defendants contributed to a fraud that cost them roughly $1 billion.

Stanford was sentenced in June 2012 to 110 years in prison after being convicted on charges he misappropriated billions of dollars in investor funds, including some $1.6 billion he allegedly moved to a personal account. His $7 billion Ponzi scheme was second only to Bernie Madoff’s record-setting scam.

From about August 2004 through 2008, Willis provided Stanford Financial with an undated form letter that said Willis was the insurance broker for Stanford International Bank and had placed directors and officers liability insurance and a bankers blanket bond with Lloyds of London, according to the current complaint.

The letters played a crucial role in Stanford’s fraud because Stanford Finanical was an offshore bank and thus not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Willis’ letters helped Stanford get around that obstacle by claiming the CDs “were even safer than U.S. Bank-issued CDs because of the unique insurance policies Willis had obtained,” the complaint says.

“The Willis letters were specifically designed to win investors’ trust and confidence in Stanford Financial’s fraudulent scheme,” the plaintiffs say in their complaint, noting that for investors with more than $1 million in their accounts, Stanford Financial advisors could get personally addressed letters from Willis.

“Willis’ message to potential investors was this: Trust us, you can invest with confidence and security in Stanford Financial CDs,” they add.

All of the plaintiffs in the current case made their purchases through Stanford Financial’s Miami office, which the complaint says accounted for more than $1 billion in CD sales.

Willis of Colorado Inc. filed the notice of removal of the class action on the grounds of diversity between plaintiffs and defendants, of the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act of 1998 and that the Northern District of Texas has exclusive jurisdiction in Stanford receivership cases.

The notice of removal also claims that defendants Willis Group Holdings Public Limited Co. and Willis Ltd., which are based in Ireland and the United Kingdom, respectively, have been fraudulently joined in an effort to defeat diversity jurisdiction. It says that the plaintiffs’ claims are on letters issued only by the subsidiary Willis of Colorado and “no reasonable possibility” exists of the plaintiffs recovering damages from the other entities.

Counsel for both sides could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.

The plaintiffs are represented by Luis Delgado and Christopher King of Homer & Bonner PA and Ervin Gonzalez of Colson Hicks Eidson PA.

Willis is represented by Edward Soto of Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP.

The case is Nuila de Gadala-Maria et al. v. Willis Group Holdings Public Limited Co., case number 1:13-cv-21989, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

For a full and open debate on the Stanford Receivership visit:

http://sivg.org.ag/


Stanford Judge Approves Interim Distribution to Victims

By Tom Korosec & Andrew Harris – May 30, 2013 9:42 PM GMT-0400

 A plan by a court-appointed receiver to distribute assets recovered from R. Allen Stanford’s Ponzi scheme to investors was approved by a federal judge in Dallas.

U.S. District Judge David C. Godbey accepted the plan by Ralph Janvey, the receiver appointed in 2009 to marshal and liquidate Stanford’s personal and business assets, to make a $55 million interim distribution to about 17,000 claimants, or about 1 cent for each of the $5.1 billion lost in the fraud scheme.

“We will follow it up in a subsequent distribution as the money comes in,” Janvey’s attorney, Kevin Sadler of Baker Botts LLP, told Godbey at a court hearing in April.

Ponzi scheme victims of Bernard L. Madoff, who was arrested in December 2008, recovered more than $5.4 billion. Clients of the MF Global Inc. brokerage were paid about $4.9 billion after its parent, MF Global Holdings Ltd., failed in October 2011. Victims of a scheme by Peregrine Financial Group Inc. founder Russell Wasendorf, who prosecutors last year said stole $215 million, received an interim distribution of $123 million.

A federal jury in Houston last year found Stanford, 63, guilty of lying to investors about the nature and oversight of certificates of deposit issued by his Antigua-based bank. The jurors decided he must forfeit $330 million in accounts seized by the U.S. government.

The SEC case is Securities and Exchange Commission v. Stanford International Bank, 09-cv-00298, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Dallas). The criminal case is U.S. v. Stanford, 09-cr-00342, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Houston).

For a full and open debate on the Stanford Receivership visit:

http://sivg.org.ag/

The Stanford International Victims Group Forum

What The SEC-SIPC Lawsuit Is All About

Source: Securities Investor Protection Corporation

What The SEC-SIPC Lawsuit Is All About

  • The SEC has brought an unprecedented lawsuit demanding that the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (“SIPC”) guarantee the value of offshore certificates of deposit (“CDs”) issued by the Stanford International Bank Ltd. in Antigua.
  • SIPC disagrees with the SEC’s position because it is in conflict with the Securities Investor Protection Act, the legislation that created SIPC and has guided it for the last 40 years.
  • SIPC is limited by law to protecting customers against the loss of missing cash or securities in the custody of failing or insolvent SIPC-member brokerage firms. SIPC was not chartered by Congress to combat fraud or guarantee an investment’s value, and its protections also do not cover investments with offshore banks or other firms that are not SIPC members.

Why The Securities Investor Protection Act Does Not Cover The Stanford-Antigua Situation


  • This case is about investments in certificate of deposits (“CDs”) issued by the Stanford International Bank Ltd. in Antigua. Stanford International Bank Ltd. is an offshore bank: it is not a SIPC-member brokerage firm and has never been a SIPC member.
  • The Securities Investor Protection Act only covers the custodial function of a SIPC-member brokerage, by offering limited protection to customers against the loss of missing cash or securities when a SIPC-member brokerage firm is holding cash or securities for an investor but fails financially.
  • The Act does not authorize SIPC to protect monies invested with offshore banks or other firms that are not SIPC members. The Act also does not protect investors against a loss in value of a security, including because of mismanagement or fraud.
  • In addition, this case involves CDs that were delivered, not a situation in which a SIPC-member brokerage firm had custody of securities but failed before delivery could occur.

The Facts

  • This case is about investments in CDs issued by the Stanford International Bank Ltd. in Antigua. Stanford International Bank Ltd. is a chartered bank formed under the laws of Antigua and Barbuda. This Antiguan bank is in liquidation in Antigua under the administration of liquidators in Antigua.
  • Stanford International Bank Ltd. advertised interest rates that were higher (often much higher) than banks in the U.S., but its CDs now have the value, if any, of a debt instrument issued by a failed bank.
  • Stanford International Bank Ltd. is not a SIPC-member brokerage firm and has never been a SIPC member.
  • Investors received Disclosure Statements from Stanford International Bank Ltd. stating that these investments were not “covered by the investor protection or securities insurance laws of any jurisdiction such as the U.S. Securities Investor Protection Insurance Corporation….”

SIPC Letter of August 14, 2009 to Ralph S. Janvey, Receiver, Stanford Financial Group Receivership

Stanford – Madoff: The Key Differences

SIPC protection is available for investors who had brokerage accounts directly at Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (“Madoff Securities”). Madoff Securities was a SIPC-member brokerage firm. Customer cash and securities were placed in the custody of Madoff Securities and were missing from the customer’s accounts when the firm failed. SIPC protection is thus available to protect customers, within limits, against the loss of their net equity balances.
By contrast, the Stanford case is about CDs that investors purchased from the Stanford International Bank Ltd. in Antigua. Stanford International Bank Ltd. is not a SIPC-member brokerage firm and has never been a SIPC member.
The Securities Investor Protection Act does not authorize SIPC to protect investors against the loss of monies invested with offshore banks or other firms that are not SIPC members. The Act also does not protect investors against a loss in value of a security, including because of mismanagement or fraud. In addition, this case involves CDs that were delivered, not a situation in which a SIPC-member brokerage firm had custody of securities but failed before delivery could occur.

Why SIPC Is Not The FDIC And Does Not Protect Against Securities Fraud


The Federal Bureau of Investigation, state securities regulators and experts have estimated that investment fraud in the U.S. totals $40 billion a year.1 Market manipulation schemes alone generate an estimated $6 billion in losses annually.2
With a reserve of slightly more than $1 billion, SIPC could not continue operations for long if its purpose was to compensate all victims with losses due to investment fraud. SIPC is limited by law to protecting customers against the loss of missing cash or securities in the custody of failing or insolvent SIPC-member brokerage firms.
It is important to understand that SIPC is not the equivalent of the banking industry’s Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”) for investment fraud. Congress considered whether to guarantee investment losses and rejected that sort of protection as unrealistic and inappropriate.




For a full and open debate on the Stanford Receivership visit:

http://sivg.org.ag/

The Stanford International Victims Group Forum