Dienstag, 21. Dezember 2010

WikiLeaks reveals US worries over Allen Stanford

December 21, 2010
US diplomats were worried about Allen Stanford's business dealings three years before his financial empire collapsed, according to WikiLeaks.

The Guardian, which has been publishing details of the cables, said the US embassy in Barbados raised the issue in a cable dated May 3, 2006 after the ambassador attended a breakfast meeting with Stanford and Barbados' prime minister.

The disclosure potentially raises fresh questions about the wisdom of the England and Wales Cricket Board to sign a deal in 2008 with the financier for England to play five Twenty20 matches against the West Indies for a £12 million prize.

In February 2009, Stanford was charged by the US Securities and Exchange Commission with multiple violations of US securities laws in an alleged "massive" 8bn-dollar fraud.

The 2006 embassy cable noted: "Allen Stanford is a controversial Texan billionaire who has made significant investments in offshore finance, aviation, and property development in Antigua and throughout the region. His companies are rumoured to engage in bribery, money-laundering and political manipulation."

A comment appended to the cable added: "Embassy officers do not reach out to Stanford because of the allegations of bribery and money-laundering. The ambassador managed to stay out of any one-on-one photos with Stanford during the breakfast."

Meanwhile, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has criticised leaking of details of the sex assault charges he faces in Sweden - which were also published in The Guardian, saying it was intended to undermine his application for bail while he faced extradition proceedings.

He said: "The leak was clearly designed to undermine my bail application. Someone in authority clearly intended to keep Julian in prison."
Source: http://sivg.org/article/wikileaks_stanford.html

More info here:

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Dienstag, 14. Dezember 2010

Allen Stanford: Brokers face charges

Allen Stanford arrested December 14, 2010
By Alex Hawkes

US authorities have told several brokers that they intend to file civil charges against them over the alleged $8bn Ponzi scheme at Allen Stanford's banking group.

US regulators have widened their investigation into the alleged fraud at Allen Stanford's banking group, and are now looking at brokers who worked with the bank as well as the bank's top executives.
Allen Stanford has been held in custody since his arrest in June 2009 Photograph: David J. Phillip/AP
The Financial Times reported this morning that the Securities and Exchange Commission had notified several brokers, as well as the head of Stanford International Bank's brokerage operations, that it intends to file civil fraud charges against them.
Investigators allege that Stanford's banking operation was in fact an $8bn (£5bn) Ponzi scheme - an investment in which returns to investors are funded either through their own payments or through those of subsequent investors rather than any genuine investment returns.

The FT said that Danny Bogar, head of SIB's brokerage operations, had been notified of the SEC's move by means of a Wells notice, a process used to alert individuals that they might face civil charges. Bogar's lawyer said his client knew nothing about the alleged fraud.

Patrick Cruickshank, a broker who worked in Stanford's office in Austin, Texas from 2006 to 2009, also received a Wells notice, the paper said, citing US regulatory filings. His lawyer said Cruickshank had "done nothing wrong" and "was a victim of the Stanford fraud".

Until now only Stanford, four senior executives at the bank and an Antiguan regulator had been charged in connection with the scheme.

Stanford, who has been held in custody since his arrest in June 2009, denies the allegations. His trial is due to begin in January, although defence lawyers argued last week that the businessman was too heavily medicated to prepare for the proceedings.

Former chief financial officer James Davis has pleaded guilty and is co-operating with the probe. Others accused have denied wrongdoing.

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Montag, 29. November 2010

SEC Eyed for Negligence in Enforcement Cases

November 29, 2010
By Rachelle Younglai
A federal watchdog is investigating whether a senior Securities and Exchange Commission official bungled an examination associated with a "major" investment adviser enforcement case in 2009.

The senior official at one of the SEC's regional offices allegedly told staffers not to pursue certain red flags in an investment adviser examination, according to a report by SEC Inspector General David Kotz.

Kotz's semi-annual report to Congress, released on Monday, did not identify the senior official, the regional office or the major enforcement case.

The senior official was motivated to cover up his tracks because he was deeply involved in the prior examination that did not uncover the fraud, according to an internal complaint received by Kotz.

The report from Kotz comes as the SEC continues to rebuild its reputation after the regulator was blasted for missing Bernard Madoff's epic fraud despite numerous tips and complaints.

The SEC declined comment. Kotz would not elaborate further.

According to the report, the complaint also alleged that a hostile work environment existed in the regional office because management failed to discipline the senior official after it was revealed that he had viewed porn on a SEC computer.

According to the report, Kotz is still eyeing allegations that the enforcement division was negligent in an investigation of an insider trading case. Among other things, Kotz is also probing allegations that SEC staff failed to properly investigate a prominent law firm for obstructing an ongoing case.

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Mittwoch, 10. November 2010

SEC Did Nothing to Stop Stanford Ponzi Scheme for Years

November 10, 2010
By Jack Kelly
Newly released documents detail 12 years of fits and starts at the Securities and Exchange Commission as financier Allen Stanford was allegedly running a global Ponzi scheme.

At one point, an SEC official laments in an e-mail, "Before I retire, the Commission will be trying to explain why it did nothing." The e-mail from Fort Worth, Texas, Regional Office Assistant Director Julie Preuitt was written in 2004. The agency did not move in on Stanford until 2009.

The documents are exhibits in a scathing report issued in March by SEC Inspector General H. David Kotz. His investigation found SEC staffers were aware of potential problems at the Stanford Financial Group as far back as 1997, but that the SEC's Enforcement Division repeatedly declined to take action. The agency released the exhibits Tuesday after repeated requests by CNBC under the Freedom of Information Act.

Kotz's investigation also found the SEC's former enforcement chief in Fort Worth, Spencer Barasch, repeatedly sought to represent Stanford after leaving the agency, even after being told by the SEC's ethics office that he could not.

The exhibits show Allen Stanford himself pushed for Barasch's hiring. With SEC investigators bearing down on the company in 2006, Stanford wrote in an e-mail to Chief Financial Officer James Davis and General Counsel Mauricio Alvarado, "The former SEC Dallas lawyer we spoke about in St. Croix. Get him on board asap."

SEC officials blocked Barasch from representing Stanford, but the documents show Barasch billed Stanford for work done in 2006. He sought to represent Stanford again after the SEC lawsuit in 2009, but officials again ruled he had a conflict of interest. According to a transcript released Tuesday, Kotz asked Barasch about the 2009 request, and Barasch replied, "Every lawyer in Texas and beyond is going to get rich over this case. Okay? And I hated being on the sidelines."

Barasch, who has not been charged with wrongdoing, has not responded to previous requests for a comment about any role he may have played in the Stanford affair.

The documents show Allen Stanford's attempts to exert his influence may have extended beyond the SEC. In a 2004 e-mail exchange with the subject "Stanford - Call to Federal Reserve," SEC officials contemplate the fact that someone at Stanford - the name in the e-mail is redacted - had contacted someone at the Federal Reserve, whose name is also redacted.

The SEC staffers conclude there is nothing they can do about the development, which leads Assistant Regional Director Preuitt to write, "I love this stuff. We all are confident that there is illegal activity but no easy way to prove. Before I retire, the Commission will be trying to explain why it did nothing. Until it falls apart all we can do is flag it every few years." The e-mail is dated October 25, 2004.

By then, officials in Fort Worth had been looking into issues at Stanford Financial for years. In 1997, examiners found evidence of "possible misrepresentation and misapplication of customer funds," according to one of the newly released documents. The report noted that Stanford himself had made a $19 million cash contribution to the company in 1996, and "We are concerned that the cash contribution may have come from funds invested by customers in (Stanford International Bank)."

The report was referred to the Enforcement Division, which ultimately chose not to pursue the matter. Among those who made the decision: regional enforcement chief Spencer Barasch.

The SEC released the Inspector General's report - minus the exhibits - on April 16, the same day the Commission announced a high-profile fraud suit against Goldman Sachs. That triggered charges the SEC was trying to bury the report amid the publicity surrounding the Goldman Sachs case, but a subsequent report by the Inspector General found no evidence of that.

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Montag, 8. November 2010

Allen Stanford beaten up by jail inmates

RAS-beaten November 8, 2010
By Daily Mail Reporter

Bloodied and bruised, this is the shocking picture of cricket tycoon Allen Stanford after a beating by jail inmates.

His neck in a brace, his eye bleeding and half-closed and his head bandaged.

The final humiliation for Stanford, 61, awaiting trial accused of masterminding a $7 billion fraud, was his feet and hands were shackled as he was taken to hospital.

Once he posed with a perspex case containing $20million at Lord's cricket ground, after being hailed as the saviour of English cricket.

But that counted for nothing at the private prison in Conroe near Houston, Texas, and the inmates sharing his cell.

"I was on the telephone and some of the other people in the cell didn't like it," he told a friend who visited him, according to the Sunday Times.
Attacked: The tycoon sits on a hospital trolley with his neck in a brace, his eye half-shut and a bandage wrapped around his head after the assault by jail prisoners in Texas
"They said something to me and then two of them jumped me and kept punching me and kicking me in the head."

"I lost consciousness, but at one time I came round and grabbed one of them by the leg. That just set them off a again".

The guards burst into the cell and shackled Stanford before taking him to a hospital where he underwent an operation while still chained up.
RAS-beaten Stanford suffered fractures to his eye socket, cheek bones and severe bruising to his body.

He has lost all feeling in the right side of his face. No one has been punished for the attack and he spent three weeks in solitary confinement, before being moved to another prison.

The assault happened in October last year in a cell holding 14 other men. It was designed to hold eight inmates and at the time had no electricity, air conditioning and was in virtual darkness.

The friend claimed the inmates were "on edge" with each other because of the cramped conditions.
Shackled: Allen Stanford is bound hand and foot at the hospital near Houston
Stanford, who faces 21 charges at his trial which begins in January, had made three requests to be moved to another prison.

His downfall began after he signed a deal with the England and Wales Cricket Board in June 2008 for five Twenty20 international matches between England and a West Indies all-star XI with a prize of $20 million.

He was caught flirting with the wives and girlfriends of England's cricketers and was seen to grab Emma Prior, wife of wicket-keeper Matt and pull her onto his lap before putting an arm round Alistair Cook's girlfriend.

An assessment of Stanford's health was prepared for a court by Victor Scarano, a forensic psychiatrist.

He wrote: "Mr Stanford described himself as a breathing corpse with increased episodes of despair, hopelessness and helplessness".

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Montag, 18. Oktober 2010

Antigua prepares to fight Stanford investors

Stanford Eagle logo October 18, 2010
By Caribbean360

The Antigua and Barbuda government says it's building a defence against a lawsuit brought by the Stanford Victims which is seeking to recover financial losses as a result of the fall of Allen Stanford's empire.

Attorney General Justin Simon says the administration has instructed its lawyers from Texas who recently visited the island.
The Stanford investors want US$24 billion in compensation - three times the amount the businessman is alleged to have defrauded customers out of.
The Stanford Victims alleges that government has benefited from Stanford's investments and, on that basis, should compensate the members for their losses.
"Government is looking at whether that action is sustainable against a sovereign state and the whole issue as to whether or not there was a commercial enterprise in which the government participated with Stanford would first of all have to be established," a statement from the government said.

The Attorney General noted, though, that there were very few actual engagements between Stanford and the United Progressive Party (UPP) administration and it is hoped that, with the information given to the lawyers, the lawsuit would be dismissed.

The Stanford investors want US$24 billion in compensation - three times the amount the businessman is alleged to have defrauded customers out of.

They have also filed another lawsuit, in which the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) is also named, accusing the regional institution of unlawfully seizing Stanford's Bank of Antigua (BOA) after news of his charges caused a run on the bank and threatened its stability.

The Attorney General says no papers have been served in relation to that matter.

BOA officially becomes the Eastern Caribbean Amalgamated Bank (ECAB) from today, owned by the government of Antigua and Barbuda and five of the largest Eastern Caribbean banks - Antigua Commercial Bank (ACB), St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank Ltd, Eastern Caribbean Financial Holdings Company Ltd, National Commercial Bank (SVG) Ltd and National Bank of Dominica Ltd.

Antigua and Barbuda has 40 percent interest in ECAB - 25 per cent belonging to government and the remaining 15 percent allocated to ACB; while each of the other four banks have 15 percent share.

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Dienstag, 28. September 2010

Did SEC Hide Botched Stanford Probe? I.G. Says Timing Is "Suspicious"

September 28, 2010
By Phil Trupp
In the style of "Mad" magazine, it's the season of con vs. con at the Securities and Exchange Commission -- only no one's laughing.

Word on the inside is that the Commission covered up -- or at least ignored -- an investigation of billionaire R. Allen Stanford, who is awaiting trial in a Texas jail on 21 criminal charges that his Antiguan bank allegedly sold questionable certificates of deposit with "improbably high" interest rates and was running a Ponzi scheme at the same time.

"They didn't call him 'Agile Allen' for nothing," according to a source familiar with the case.

The SEC apparently wasn't nearly so agile.

A report by SEC Inspector General H. David Kotz claims the SEC was aware Stanford was running a $7 billion Ponzi scheme as far back as 1997, but waited until late 2005 to step in. The Commission filed civil charges in the case in February 2009.

Kotz noted that the Commission filed civil fraud charges against Goldman Sachs last April, on the same day it released his report critical of the Stanford investigation. The timing of the Goldman filing is "suspicious," said Kotz, who went on to suggest that the Goldman charges diverted attention from the report of the botched Stanford probe.

The inspector general said the timing of the two actions in April "strains credulity." Kotz made his suspicions public at a September 22 congressional hearing on the Stanford investigation before Senate Banking Committee.

Republican sources in Washington claimed the SEC made Goldman the poster boy for greed as a cover for the Stanford investigative foul up. These sources also suspect Goldman was sued to help boost support for the new regulatory reforms governing Wall Street's occasionally bad behavior.

Though SEC denies the Goldman announcement was a cover-up of the Stanford probe, Kotz wondered out loud if in fact the timing might have been politically motivated.

Republican speculation aside, Mr. Kotz told the committee that top officials at the SEC's Fort Worth office were "being judged on the numbers of cases they brought, so-called 'stats'," the obvious and easy cases. "Complex cases were disfavored," Mr. Kotz explained, because they were not "slam dunks." Mr. Allen's case is a rat's nest of allegations including, but hardly limited to, the purchase of a Caribbean island. In other words, it didn't add up as a "stat" or "quick hit" case.

Robert Khuzami, director of SEC's Enforcement Division, and Carlo di Florio, director of the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations, said they are moving to implement the reforms demanded by Mr. Kotz.

Mr. Khuzami said he was alerting what he called "rank and file" SEC inspectors that quick hits do not drive enforcement. He said the divisions are now coordinating their efforts and stepping up the pace.

So what does it take to make the SEC do the right thing? Among the suggestions by Mr. Khuzami and Mr. di Florio is to expand training programs and modernize the management structure. In addition, they added, it's time to place "seasoned investigative attorneys back on the front lines and improve examiners' risk management techniques." No one on the Senate panel bothered to ask where these "seasoned attorneys" have been hiding.

The Kotz report landed on SEC Commissioner Mary Schapiro's desk in March. The Senate hearing gave the lawmakers a chance to vent their dissatisfaction with the Commission, but it's anyone's guess if substance will come out of the Senate probe. Last year, for example, the House Financial Services Committee held hearings on the $336 billion auction rate securities scandal, but no legislation or regulations followed. When Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) was asked about this failure, he replied, "The ('08) meltdown got in the way." It now remains to be seen if the Senate Committee can find a clear path to financial reform of the SEC's enforcement process.

The hearing produced notable contradictions. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala), the committee's ranking republican, said the Bernard Madoff $65 billion Ponzi scheme had caught the SEC flatfooted though at least one part of the Commission had been aware of the Stanford case for years. Sen. Shelby was obviously unaware that there had been warnings about Madoff as far back as the late 1990s.

"I believe this should mark the beginning of our review of this troublesome episode," Sen. Shelby said, referring to Mr. Stanford. "We need to know exactly why evidence of this fraud was not more thoroughly pursued."

He added that Mr. Khuzami had brought to light "a colossal failure of the SEC."

Observers wondered why Sen. Shelby was so outraged. "Is he living on another planet?" asked one source. "Is this the first time it crossed his mind that the SEC is maybe a little slow off the mark?"

Another open question: Why was no one fired because of the incompetent handling of the Stanford affair? It seemed a rhetorical question, given that no one was fired in the wake of the Madoff scandal, which was a much larger fraud. Lawmakers also expressed concern that the head of the Fort Worth division later offered to defend Mr. Stanford before the Senate committee.

"It takes time for a culture to change," Mr. Kotz said. "It takes time to trickle down the line."

In the meantime, the investing public will just have to wait on trickle-down ethics to kick in before trust is restored.

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Mittwoch, 22. September 2010

Senators probe inaction against Stanford

September 22, 2010
By MENGFEI CHEN Copyright 2010 Houston Chronicle
Angry senators grilled top officials of the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday, citing the agency's delays in taking action against accused swindler R. Allen Stanford despite repeated red flags about his financial firm's operations.

Lawmakers sharply questioned Rose Romero, the director of the SEC's Fort Worth regional office, and Robert Khuzami, the agency's national enforcement director, about a report from the agency's independent inspector general.

It found that the Fort Worth compliance office decided at least four times not to act on findings by SEC staffers that Stanford appeared to be operating a Ponzi scheme.

The inspector general's report concluded that Fort Worth SEC officials harbored suspicions that Stanford was acting illegally as early as 1997, two years after his company's broker-dealer arm, Stanford Group Co., registered with the SEC.

Over the next eight years, the compliance branch of the Fort Worth office conducted four separate examinations of Stanford's investments and reported each time that the high returns and low volatility were "highly unlikely" and inconsistent with a "legitimate" fund.

All four times, Fort Worth's enforcement team chose not to act on the findings. The enforcement team first opened a formal investigation into Stanford's company in 2005.

The SEC filed a civil fraud suit in February 2009 against Stanford and his companies, which were placed in receivership. A federal grand jury handed down the criminal indictments four months later.

Sen. Vitter asked Rose Romero why it took so long for the SEC to do something about the "suspected" fraud, one of her answers given was that "we did not think there were any American investors so it really did not concern us".

Victim's comment:
That answer showed me that they did not - and do not - care about any victims from outside of the US... disgusting attitude. The SEC admitted that they were negligent, they admitted that they did not show Due Diligence and yet we are still not able to seek legal redress from them. The whole situation stinks.

Stanford Group Co., was registered with the SEC and the main task of SEC is to safeguard ANY investment of Stanford Group. Of course if they were not racist or if they were "really working" instead of watching porns, then this Ponzi Scheme wouldn't affect thousands of innocent persons.

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Federal authorities are considering whether to prosecute a former securities regulator in Fort Worth who repeatedly quashed investigations of R. Allen

September 22, 2010
Federal authorities are considering whether to prosecute a former securities regulator in Fort Worth who repeatedly quashed investigations of R. Allen Stanford's offshore banking empire.

Securities and Exchange Commission Inspector General David Kotz reported earlier this year that Spencer C. Barasch had "a significant role" in decisions not to formally investigate Stanford, who the SEC has since accused of running an $8 billion Ponzi scheme.

Kotz told lawmakers Wednesday that his office has "had discussions with criminal authorities about whether there would be any criminal action arising because of that."

Kotz's report, issued earlier this year, also said that Barasch later represented Stanford despite ethics laws against doing so.

Under questioning from Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., Kotz said he'd learned the SEC would ask the State Bar of Texas to investigate Barasch for disciplinary violations.

"If you don't get the Justice Department involved in this, shame on you as the inspector general," Bunning said. "That, to me, is criminal negligence. And the sooner they get him before a U.S. court, the better I will like it."

Officials at Barasch's law firm, Andrews Kurth, couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Kotz delivered his testimony during a hearing of the Senate Banking Committee that examined how the SEC's Fort Worth office missed several opportunities to stop Stanford's alleged scheme before it grew larger.

SEC officials said they would implement all of Kotz's recommendations, including increasing coordination between the SEC's examiners and enforcement staff.

The inspector general's report said that SEC examiners in Fort Worth suspected as early as 1997 that Stanford was probably operating a massive Ponzi scheme through certificates of deposit marketed to Americans and investors in other countries.

However, the Fort Worth enforcement staff didn't formally investigate those concerns until 2006, by which time the amount invested in Stanford's CDs had grown much larger.

In Feb. 2009, the SEC accused Stanford and three of his firms of fraud and other securities violations for operating a "massive Ponzi scheme" estimated at $8 billion. The Justice Department also has filed criminal charges against an Antiguan banking regulator who allegedly conspired with Stanford to obstruct SEC investigations over the years.

Rose Romero, the director of the SEC's Fort Worth division, told lawmakers Wednesday that the SEC has notified other Stanford executives and financial advisers "that we intend to recommend fraud charges against them."

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Freitag, 27. August 2010

Undisclosed Stanford Loans Prove Fraud, Examiner Says

August 27, 2010
By Laurel Brubaker Calkins and Andrew M. Harris
Stanford International Bank Ltd.'s $1.7 billion in undisclosed loans to indicted financier R. Allen Stanford are proof the bank was involved in fraud, a examiner testified in a U.S. court trial in Houston.

"There's a complete disconnect between what the bank is saying, that it has fully liquid, short-term, fully monetized assets, and the fact a third of these assets are loans to the shareholder," fraud accountant Mark Berenblut said today.

Berenblut made the statement in his second day of testimony in a civil trial over whether directors' and officers' insurance sold to Stanford's businesses by Lloyd's of London is voided by alleged criminal conduct.

Investors bought more than $7 billion in certificates of deposit from the Antiguan bank, which Stanford controlled as sole shareholder until the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sued the financier in February 2009, and seized his businesses.

Stanford and three other company executives in June 2009 were indicted by a federal grand jury in Houston on charges they'd run a $7 billion fraud scheme centered on the sale of certificates of deposit by the Stanford bank.

Rejected Claims

Investors had been told the bank's portfolio consisted of conservative, highly liquid investments that offered above- market returns.

Lloyd's last year rejected the executives' pleas for coverage under the $100 million worth of insurance bought by the business after Stanford Group Cos. Chief Financial Officer James M. Davis pleaded guilty to charges he aided in the scheme.

The case is Laura Pendergest-Holt v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's of London, 4:09-cv-03712, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Houston).

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

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Donnerstag, 5. August 2010

The CIA, Banking Scams, and R. Allen Stanford

R. Allen Stanford and the CIA August 5, 2010
By Tom Burghardt

In a scandal-plagued era such as ours, scarred by murderous wars, occupations and corruption that would make a Roman emperor blush, accused crooks have names; even juiced ones like R. Allen Stanford.

Last year, when a federal court in Texas handed down indictments charging Stanford International Bank (SIB) and its officers with "orchestrating a fraudulent, multibillion dollar investment scheme," I wondered: was there more to the story?

Indeed there was.
R. Allen Stanford and the CIA
Once described by fawning media as a "flamboyant Texan" and "philanthropist," Stanford was founder and sole shareholder of a global banking empire once conservatively valued at $50 billion.

According to the federal indictment, "Sir Allen," as he was dubbed by a corrupt former minister of Antigua, ran a massive Ponzi scheme camouflaged as a bank that sold some $7 billion in self-styled "certificates of deposit" and $1.2 billion in mutual funds.

Operated from behind a façade of well-appointed offices and with a jet-set lifestyle to match, the Stanford grift may have been impressive but it was a scam from the get-go. Lured by "high rates that exceed those available through true certificates of deposits offered by traditional banks," thousands lost their shirts.

Those high rates were a lie and the bank's "unique investment strategy" about as legitimate as a penny-stock fraud or advance fee scam on the internet. Of the $8 billion hoovered up by the banker and his cronies, only about $500 million have been recovered.

Facing the prospect of years in prison, The Miami Herald reported that SIB's chief financial officer James Davis, once Stanford's college roommate and originally charged in the indictment, copped a plea to save his own neck.

Davis told the Justice Department that "his boss had been stealing from investors for decades while paying bribes to regulators and even performing blood oaths never to reveal his secrets."

Talk about a wise guy!

And with connections and generous pay-outs to U.S. politicians going back more than a decade, 65% of which went to Democrats including our "change" president, Allen Stanford was plugged-in.

Evidence also suggests he may have gotten an assist covering his tracks from regulators and U.S. secret state agencies, including the CIA.

SEC Stand Down

Allen Stanford did business the American way; he swindled depositors and then siphoned-off the proceeds into a spider's web of offshore accounts.

The indictment charges "it was part of the conspiracy that Stanford... and others would cause the movement of millions of dollars of fraudulently obtained investors' funds from and among bank accounts located in the Southern District of Texas and elsewhere in the United States to various bank accounts located outside of the United States... in order to exercise exclusive control over the investors' funds."

Auditors learned that funds were moved through Stanford-controlled accounts to offshore banks, including HSBC in London, Bank Julius Baer in Zurich and eight others; banks which have figured in past money laundering or tax-avoidance scandals. None have been charged with an offense in connection with the affair.

In all, 28 numbered accounts were listed by prosecutors, veritable black holes that escaped scrutiny; that is if regulators in Washington were minding the store, which they weren't.

Years earlier, SEC investigators at the commission's Ft. Worth office uncovered evidence of wrongdoing. According to an explosive report by the SEC's Office of the Inspector General, Ft. Worth examiners launched a series of probes in 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2004 exploring SIB practices but their diligence was sabotaged by high-level officials.

That report, Investigation of the SEC's Response to Concerns Regarding Robert Allen Stanford's Alleged Ponzi Scheme, Case No. OIG-526, March 31, 2010, paints a damning picture of the regulatory process.

The inspector general states: "While the Fort Worth Examination group made multiple efforts after each examination to convince the Fort Worth Enforcement program ('Enforcement') to open and conduct an investigation of Stanford, no meaningful effort was made by Enforcement to investigate the potential fraud or to bring an action to attempt to stop it until late 2005."

Last month, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that staff members, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared management retaliation, told the newspaper that higher-ups wanted "tools to do away with people who have a dissenting opinion."

Senior managers called the probes a "goat screw" and ordered them killed.

The OIG investigation "found that the former head of Enforcement in Fort Worth, who played a significant role in multiple decisions over the years to quash investigations of Stanford, sought to represent Stanford on three separate occasions after he left the Commission, and in fact represented Stanford briefly in 2006 before he was informed by the SEC Ethics Office that it was improper to do so." (emphasis added)

In Florida, The Miami Herald revealed that state regulators did the SEC one better and gave the bank carte blanche to operate secretly, moving "vast amounts of money offshore--without reporting a penny to regulators."

The arrangement between the bank and the Florida Office of Financial Regulation was so brazen, that Stanford's company "was allowed to sell hundreds of millions in bank notes without allowing regulators to check for fraud."

And once those suspect instruments were sold, the Herald reported that "employees shredded records of the trust agreements and CD purchases once the original documents were sent to Antigua, state records show."

A sweet deal if you can get it, or have powerful friends who might wish to avoid messy inquiries touching upon sensitive matters.

The New York Times reported last year that current charges "stem from an inquiry opened in October 2006," that is, nearly a decade "after a routine exam of Stanford Group, according to Stephen J. Korotash, an associate regional director of enforcement with the agency's Fort Worth office."

Korotash told the Times that the SEC "stood down" its investigation "at the request of another federal agency, which he declined to name."

According to BusinessWeek, in 2006 the Bush administration "bestowed on his intelligence czar... broad authority, in the name of national security" to excuse companies from "their normal accounting and securities-disclosure obligations" if such disclosures revealed "certain top-secret defense projects."

At the time, William McLucas, the Securities and Exchange Commission's former enforcement chief told the publication that the ability to conceal financial information from regulators under the rubric of "national security" could lead some companies "to play fast and loose with their numbers."

The former official said, "it could be that you have a bunch of books and records out there that no one knows about."

In response to media reports, congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), wrote a letter to SEC Chair Mary Schapiro last year, demanding documents, and answers, why the SEC suspended investigations of the "Stanford Group under pressure from another unidentified federal agency."

The Ohio congressman said, "if this is true... our subcommittee will demand that the SEC reveal the name of that agency which told it not to enforce federal laws which protect investors."

Neither documents nor answers were forthcoming.

Cynics might see something untoward here, but I think it's all just a coincidence, like drug planes bought with bundles of cash laundered through American banks.

Drug Probes Killed

In 1986 during the Iran-Contra period, Allen Stanford's Guardian International Bank set up shop on the sleepy Caribbean isle of Montserrat (pop. 5,870).

It didn't take long before the bank came under scrutiny. Guardian was the subject of a joint Scotland Yard-FBI investigation "into so-called 'brass-plate' banks," The Independent disclosed.

According to reporters David Connett and Stephen Foley, the bank "was suspected of laundering drug money from the notorious Medellin and Cali drug cartels run by Pablo Escobar and the Orejuela brothers."

During the Iran-Contra scandal, congressional investigators and journalists scrutinized links between Colombian drug traffickers and the CIA's Nicaraguan Contra army.

By 1986, evidence began to emerge that top Contra officials and the Agency enjoyed cosy ties with both Escobar and the Orejuela brothers. Under pressure from the Reagan administration however, both Congress and corporate media deep-sixed the story as the affair was covered-up.

A decade later, largely as a result of outrage generated by the late Gary Webb's Dark Alliance series, a memorandum of understanding between Reagan's Justice Department and the Agency entered the public record. That 1982 memo legally freed the CIA from reporting drug smuggling by their assets.

Former FBI agent Ross Gaffney who led the Guardian probe, told Connett and Foley that "we suspected that Stanford's bank was involved in money laundering." But before that investigation could be developed, Stanford suddenly pulled up stakes and "voluntarily surrendered his Montserrat banking licence and left the island."

Gaffney said that even after Guardian closed, the FBI "continued to take an interest in Stanford and set up a second inquiry into that bank after receiving intelligence that it continued to launder money for the Medellin and Cali cartels."

The former federal agent told The Independent, "We had hard intelligence about what he was doing and we began to develop it" but the investigation died or more likely, killed, by officials higher-up the food chain.

After leaving Montserrat, Stanford trained his sights on Antigua and Barbuda and developed a close relationship with former prime minister Lester Bird.

"Under the Bird family leadership" Connett and Foley reported, "the island was widely regarded as one of the most corrupt in the Caribbean, with well-documented links to arms and drug smuggling and money laundering."

According to The Independent, "in 1990, Israeli automatic weapons ordered by Mr Bird's brother Vere turned up in the hands of a notorious Colombian drug trafficker."

Despite suspicions, it appears that Stanford was golden as far as the feds were concerned; just another guy with an endless supply of "get-out-of-jail-free" cards.

One reason Stanford operated with impunity, the BBC informs us, is that he "may have been a US government informer."

DEA documents seen by BBC's investigative unit Panorama, suggest that "drug money [was] originally paid in to Stanford International Bank by agents acting for a feared Mexican drug lord known as the 'Lord of the Heavens'."

Confidential DEA sources believe that Stanford turned over "details of money-laundering from Latin American clients from Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela and Ecuador," thus "effectively guaranteeing himself a decade's worth of 'protection' from the authorities, especially the SEC."

"We were convinced that Stanford's bank attracted millions of narco-dollars," sources told Panorama, "but it was very difficult to get the evidence to nail him."

"The word is" BBC reported, "that Stanford has been a confidential informer for the DEA since '99."

Snitch or not, this raises intriguing questions.

Was Stanford's bank a black hole which U.S. intelligence agencies could exploit, in the interest of "national security" mind you, and therefore exempt from "normal disclosure obligations" as BusinessWeek averred?

If this were so, then even if Stanford were an informant he could have continued to launder drug money and profit nicely; such gentleman's agreements are not without precedent.

One need only glance at internal U.S. government documents released by the National Security Archive, documents which revealed the Cali cartel's close collaboration with corrupt Colombian police, neofascist paramilitaries and the CIA when Medellin drug lord Pablo Escobar was run to ground.

Pointedly, was Stanford's banking empire another in a long line of institutional channels that drug cartels and the CIA could both profit from?

Banks, Drugs and Covert Operations

Across the decades, historians, investigative journalists and researchers have uncovered strong evidence that various banks have served as virtual cut-outs for CIA covert operations.

Readers need only recall illegal activities by institutions as diverse as Paul Helliwell's Castle Bank and Trust in the Bahamas, Frank Nugan and Michael Hand's Nugan Hand Bank in Sydney and the Cayman Islands, or the far-flung empire of Agha Hasan Abedi's Bank and Credit and Commerce International.

Separated in time and geography, what all three banks had in common was their close proximity to international drug trafficking networks and the CIA, particularly in areas of acute interest to U.S. policy planners. Did Stanford International Bank have a similar arrangement with the Agency?

When the scandal finally broke, the Houston Chronicle reported that authorities had been "looking for ties to organized drug cartels and money laundering, going back at least a decade."

In the late 1990s, court documents revealed that "operatives of the Juarez cartel began opening accounts at Stanford's Antigua-based bank," laundering profits amassed by the Amado Carrillo Fuentes organization, the late "Lord of the Heavens" referred to in the BBC report.

The Chronicle notes that Fuentes' representatives "used Stanford International Bank to open 10 accounts and deposit $3 million." We should bear in mind however, these represent only known accounts. Were there others? Federal and state investigators have said that there were.

After authorities determined the accounts were held by a notorious drug cartel, Stanford turned over the $3 million. Yet despite hard evidence of criminal wrongdoing, federal officials told the Chronicle that "any alleged Stanford connection to drug cartels and their money could lie buried in the paperwork gathered for the Security and Exchange Commission's civil inquiry."

One might even say rather conveniently.

During the same period, Texas state securities regulators uncovered more evidence of money laundering by Stanford entities. But because it involved offshore banks, they "referred it" to the FBI and SEC.

Texas Securities Commissioner Denise Voigt Crawford told a Senate Finance Committee last year, "Why it took 10 years for the feds to move on it, I cannot answer."

Miffed by government foot-dragging, Crawford added, "We worked with the FBI and the SEC and basically gave them the case. We told them what we'd seen and they were going to run with it."

But that investigation died on the vine.

Echoing similar themes, The Observer disclosed an FBI source close to the investigation confirmed that the Bureau "was looking at links to international drug gangs as part of the huge investigation into Stanford's banking activities."

The Observer reported that Mexican authorities seized one of Stanford's private jets in connection with alleged links to the Gulf cartel and said that "cheques found inside the plane were linked to the cartel, which is one of the most violent criminal organisations in the world."

DEA sources told the London newspaper "there may well have been a trail connecting his Mexican affairs to narco-trafficking interests." However, a second DEA official told The Observer, "I think we'll find that any possible drug-related trail and SEC priorities are not all in the same frame."

A curious statement considering the billions of dollars in fraudulent activities alleged against the bank, some of which may have been derived from laundering drug money.

One would assume that evidence of serious wrongdoing would be motive enough to take a hard look at the allegations and not concoct a fairy tale that these charges lie "buried in the paperwork"!

A U.S. drug enforcement official told The Observer, "Any major US interest seeking to avoid fully disclosed investments would have to go to pretty careful lengths to avoid encountering cartel interests."

"Anyone seeking to conceal or launder money would find it in safe and lucrative hands were they to forge alliances with, rather than skirt, the cartels," The Observer noted, and would "find them accommodating in terms of remuneration." The official hastened to add, it's "nothing anyone will confirm for Stanford right now."

The question is: why?

A Full-Service Bank

One possible answer may revolve around charges that SIB's Venezuela branch was a conduit for laundered CIA funds.

If true, then the Agency would be dead set against trial disclosures that revealed the bank had been involved in laundering drug money, particularly if narcotics syndicates are playing a role in U.S. destabilization efforts there.

Months before Stanford's empire collapsed, Venezuela's socialist government launched a raid on SIB offices in Caracas.

The Daily Telegraph reported that "Sir Allen Stanford, the Texan billionaire... is now at the centre of an international spying row."

The conservative British newspaper disclosed that "officials from Venezuelan military intelligence raided a branch of his offshore bank over claims that its employees were paid by the CIA to spy on the south American country."

Although corporate media in the U.S. dismissed Venezuelan allegations as propaganda, questions persist.

While on a charm offensive before his arrest last year, Stanford gave an interview to CNBC's Scott Cohn. When asked about claims that his bank may have been a cut-out for the Agency, this curious exchange took place:

Cohn: "You just by nature of your position and where you were got to know a lot of people in Latin America, in Africa, in Europe, around the world, and it strikes me that somebody in your position would be useful to the authorities in the US trying to find out what was going on there, what was going on in places like Venezuela. Can you tell me about any sort of role you played that way, were you helpful to the authorities in the US?"

Stanford: "Are you talking about the CIA?"

Cohn: "Well, you tell me."

Stanford: "I'm not going to talk about that."

Cohn: "Why not?"

Stanford: "I'm just not going to talk about that."

Cohn: "Well, I mean, am I--is my premise correct that someone in your position would be helpful to those who wanted to know what was going on?"

Stanford: "I really don't have anything to add to that that would be of any value."

Stanford's reticence is certainly understandable, considering Frank Hand's fate 30 years ago.

During a similar scandal when the CIA-linked Nugan Hand bank collapsed amid charges of fraud and drug money laundering, the chief executive turned up dead in his Mercedes with a shot to the head.

Despite evidence uncovered by investigations going back to the 1980s, drug money laundering charges or any reference to Agency activities will not figure in the Justice Department's case when Stanford goes on trial in January.

As ABC News delicately put it, SEC action against Stanford "may have complicated the federal drug case."

Underscoring the federal government's reluctance to explore this dark corner of Allen Stanford's career, it might do well to keep in mind what one airline executive told investigative journalist Daniel Hopsicker during his probe into the 9/11 attacks.

"Sometimes when things don't make business sense, its because they do make sense... just in some other way."

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Freitag, 30. Juli 2010

Bush's ambassador to eastern Caribbean protected Stanford operations

Allen Stanford July 30, 2010

Mary K. Ourisman, the Texas-born socialite wife of Maryland car dealer Mandy Ourisman, helped provide diplomatic and legal cover for jailed former Stanford International Bank chief Allen Stanford, according to Stanford insiders who spoke to us. Mary Ourisman was George W. Bush's ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean States, which include Antigua and Barbuda, the headquarters for Stanford's one-time global banking and financial services empire that collapsed in 2009 after it was discovered to be a Ponzi scheme...
Indicted financier R. Allen Stanford, accused of leading a $7 billion investment fraud scheme.
Stanford is in prison in Texas and has been refused bail as a flight risk -- Stanford is also a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda. He is scheduled to go on trial in January 2011, conveniently two months after the congressional election in November. Stanford's campaign contributions fell into the coffers of congressional members of both Democrats and Republicans.

However, as we previously reported, Stanford International Bank, Bank Al-Madina in Lebanon and Billions of syphoned monies from the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns, also became a replacement for the collapsed Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) as a vehicle for drug money laundering and other covert operations on behalf of the CIA and other intelligence agencies...

Mary Ourisman, a political fundraiser for Bush and other GOP candidates and a close friend of former First Lady Laura Bush, became U.S. ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean States in 2006. In her job, Ourisman ensured that Stanford's financial operations in Antigua and Barbuda, as well as in two other Caribbean nations where she was credentialed as ambassador, St. Kitts-Nevis and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, were protected from federal regulators.

To provide even more protection for Stanford's money laundering and other covert operations, Stanford showered GOP and Democratic senators with large campaign contributions, including $83,000 for John Cornyn of Texas and $950,000 for the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, and particularly, Bob Menendez of New Jersey. Menendez, who maintains close connections to the Cuban exile community in Florida and new Jersey and its CIA/MOSSAD veteran operatives, has refused to investigate the Stanford fraud on behalf of its victims and has tried to block any Senate investigation of Stanford's links to the CIA/MOSSAD and top government officials, Democratic and Republican.

It is also noteworthy that Texas was the only U.S. state to have entered into a financial regulatory agreement with Antigua. The Texas Department Banking and the Antigua and Barbuda International Financial Sector Regulatory authority signed the agreement on July 26, 2001. More amazingly, the agreement was signed while Antigua was subject to a U.S. Treasury advisory warning of potential fraud.

Ourisman sat idly in Bridgetown, Barbados as Antigua's Attorney General, Errol Cort, who had also been Stanford's personal attorney on the island, changed the island nation's money laundering laws to the benefit of Stanford and his CIA/MOSSAD overseers, without a peep from any of the regulatory agencies in Washington. Cort, who is now the National Security Minister of Antigua and has used his position to make things uncomfortable for Stanford fraud investigators traveling to the island, also served on the board of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, which took over Stanford's Bank of Antigua after Stanford empire collapsed in 2009. Stanford had become a political kingpin in Antigua, exercising influence over the previous Lester Bird government and its successor, the present Baldwin Spencer government -- without any interference from Ourisman in Barbados or the State Department of stooges of CIA...

Even today, Antigua's ambassador to the United States, Debra-Mae Lovell, the wife of Antigua's corruption-tainted Finance Minister Harold Lovell, spends most of her time in Washington acting as a public relations flack for Antigua and ridiculing the former Stanford investors who were defrauded by the Ponzi scheme -- a scheme facilitated by a corrupt Antiguan government. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, more concerned about the continuation of U.S. military basing rights on Antigua, has warmly embraced Ambassador Lovell and members of her government and has lavished hundreds of millions of dollars of aid on Antigua.

The bodies have piled up among those who were most familiar with Stanford's operations. On February 25, 2009, we reported, "No one will ever know just how Charlesworth Shelley Hewlett, who ran CAS Hewlett & Company out of a small office sandwiched between fish and chips shops on South Bury Road in Enfield in north London, came to be the accountant for Allen Stanford's $50 billion financial empire that included Stanford International Bank (SIB). That is because Mr. Hewlett, known as a quiet gray-haired man to those who had offices in his north London office block, died 'peacefully'... with help from CIA goons, a few weeks before the Stanford scandal hit the front pages. Hewlett was 73 but no one knows the reason for Hewlett's death." Hewlett also maintained an office on St. John's Street, in St. John's, the capital of Antigua.

Stogniew, who headed a one-man company in Florida, Stogniew and Associates, provided risk analysis services for Stanford. Stogniew produced a flimsy three-page risk analysis report for Stanford in 2003. It mostly consisted of disclaimers. Gerry Stogniew, who founded his company in 1980 and resided in Seminole, Florida, died in July 2008... The firm was taken over by Stogniew's daughter and CIA... Oddly, the professional staff for Stogniew and Associates are only listed by their initials. Federal Election Commission records indicate Stogniew donated to the campaigns of George H. W. Bush in 1987 and Florida Republicans Bill McCollum in 1999 and Katherine Harris in 2005.

Allen Stanford and Mary Ourisman shared more than an interest in protecting Stanford International Bank from nosy regulators: they were both born in the small Texas town of Mexia, Ourisman in 1946 and Stanford in 1950. The town's other "famous" celebrity: the late Anna Nicole Smith, who died from a suspected lethal drug overdose in Hollywood, Florida in 2007...

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Stanford fraud - Summary Chart

Bouvet Island July 30, 2010

The document lists the Stanford International Bank, Ltd. (SIBL) of Antigua and Barbuda depositors by country of origin. Depositors from 114 countries, including the United States, China, and Israel are listed.

The most surprising depositor listed was from Bouvet Island, a wind-swept and foreboding uninhabited and volcanically-active Norwegian island in the south Atlantic between South Africa and Antarctica. There is a reported Norwegian unmanned weather station on the island.

Bouvet Island is an unlikely place to find a Stanford International Bank depositor.
The use of Bouvet Island as a pass-through for investments in SIBL adds to the suspicions that Stanford’s bank became the new Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) for various intelligence agencies, including the CIA, Britain’s MI-6, and Mossad, for narcotics money laundering, weapons smuggling, and illegal payments to CIA and other intelligence and criminal syndicate clients around the world.

A spokesman for the Norwegian embassy in Washington, DC expressed surprise at the revelation that its uninhabited island had a depositor in SIBL in Antigua.

Additional information from the Norwegian government on the possible use of one of its uninhabited dependencies for international money laundering has been requested.

"The depth of the failure at the SEC in the Stanford investigation is unbelievable," said U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La.

Vitter added that he is pushing for a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Kotz’ report in September because: "The one thing that is clear from the report is that the debt the SEC owes the Stanford victims is enormous."

"I urge the SEC to act swiftly in correcting these wrongs, so these families whose retirement and savings were stolen as a result of greed and government failure can begin rebuilding their lives," U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon said.

Summary Chart

Source: http://sivg.org/article/summary_chart.html

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Sonntag, 25. Juli 2010

Stanford International Bank became a new BCCI

July 25, 2010
WMR has learned from knowledgeable sources who have attempted to locate the global assets of the now-defunct Stanford Financial Group and its parallel Stanford International Bank, Ltd. in the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda, that the global entity resembles the former "bank of choice" for the CIA, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI).

BCCI's fortunes began to turn sour in 1988 when its involvement in money laundering began to become public. A few years earlier, Allen Stanford moved from Texas to the Caribbean island of Montserrat to start up Guardian International Bank. Stanford's bank later abandoned Montserrat and moved to Antigua where it was re-named Stanford International Bank. As BCCI began to crumble, Stanford was able to pick up the pieces.

Within ten years, Stanford Financial Group had replaced BCCI as the company of choice for "The Company," the CIA.

Investigators who have delved into the records of Stanford reveal, "for more than twenty years, multiple US government agencies watched on as Allen Stanford built a global web of fraudulent financial companies that were managed from Stanford's corporate headquarters in Houston, Texas. The lynch pin of the Stanford fraud was of course, the offshore bank in Antigua - Stanford International Bank (SIB)."

The Israeli Connection to Stanford

When SIBC went into receivership, court documents show that among SIBC's depositors was Yair Shamir, the chairman of Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), the managing partner of the Catalyst Fund -- an Israeli venture capital firm that funds many U.S. defense and aerospace firms, the former chairman of El Al Airlines, and a former Colonel in the Israeli Air Force. Shamir is also politically powerful as he is the son of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.

Shamir has had his own run-ins with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which were settled on January 26, 2009 - just three weeks before the SEC filed a massive securities fraud suit against Stanford. Catalyst Fund investors are European banks, some of which are being sued for their involvement as correspondent banks for SIBL. In 2006, Stanford invested in a company funded by the Catalyst Fund, Cyalume, which makes products that utilize a chemical reaction to produce light. According to an SEC filing, most Cyalume's revenue is from contracts with the U.S. military and NATO. At the time of insolvency, Stanford Financial Group owned 6.66% of Cyalume's stock. Other Cyalume shareholders include Ehud Barak, Israel's Minister of Defense and Deputy Prime Minister, former vice chief of staff for the US Army General Jack Keane, and retired US Navy Commander in Chief, Pacific fleet, Admiral Archie Clemins.

Cyalume's on-line biography if Shamir states: "Yair Shamir has been a director of Cyalume since December 19, 2008. Mr. Shamir is the Chairman and Managing Partner of Catalyst Investments and the Chairman of IAI, Israeli Aerospace Industries. From 2004-2005, Mr. Shamir was Chairman of El Al, Israeli Airlines and lead the privatization process of the firm. From 1997-2005 Served as Chairman and CEO of VCON Telecommunications Ltd. From 1995 to 1997, Mr. Shamir served as executive vice president of the Challenge Fund-Etgar L.P. From 1994 to 1995, he served as Chief Executive Officer of Elite Food Industries, Ltd. From 1988 to 1993, Mr. Shamir served as Executive Vice President and General Manager of Scitex Corporation, Ltd. Mr. Shamir served in the Israeli Air Force as a pilot and commander from 1963 to 1988. During his term in the Air Force, Mr. Shamir attained the rank of colonel and served as head of the electronics department, the highest professional electronics position within the Air Force. He currently serves as a director of DSP Group Corporation and also serves as director of a few private hi-tech companies. Mr. Shamir holds a B.Sc. Electronics Engineering from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology.

Mr. Shamir also served as a member of the board of directors of Mercury Interactive, LLC from 1997 to 2005. In September 2008, Mr. Shamir settled a complaint filed by the SEC which alleged that certain independent directors of Mercury (including Mr. Shamir) recklessly approved backdated stock option grants and reviewed and signed public filings that contained materially false and misleading disclosures about the company's stock option grants and company expenses. Without admitting or denying the allegations in the SEC's complaint, in order to settle the charges against them, each of the independent directors implicated (including Mr. Shamir) agreed to permanent injunctions against violating certain provisions of the securities laws, paid a financial penalty, and retained the ability to serve as a director or officer of U.S. public companies."

WMR has earned from defrauded Stanford customers that on December 19, 2008, Cyalume entered into a $33 million credit arrangement with Toronto Dominion Bank, which accepted the billions of dollars of wire transfers to fund Stanford International Bank CDs (it is noteworthy that none of the money to purchase Stanford International Bank CDs never actually made it to Antigua and SIB never held any funds – Toronto Dominion [TD Bank]accepted wires to fund CDs and then transferred the funds to bank accounts in Houston). Stanford Financial Group CFO James Davis, who plead guilty in August 2009, went to Israel to meet with Shamir and Prime Minister Netanyahu in the fall of 2007.

A substantial portion of the depositors in SIB are Venezuelan citizens who hid their funds off-shore to avoid taxation by Venezuela's government of President Hugo Chavez. Antigua announced it was completing its acquisition of West Indies Oil Company (WIOC) with a $68 million loan from Venezuela's state-owned oil firm, PDVSA, to PDV CAB, a private company for which Antigua is the sole shareholder. Antigua already owned 25 percent of the shares of WIOC. There is yet another Israeli angle, along with a link to BCCI, in Stanford's Caribbean operations.

The other 75 percent of WIOC was owned by Bruce Rappaport, an Israeli-born Swiss citizen and billionaire shipping giant and banking tycoon who owned the Inter Maritime Bank in Geneva, which was used to provide payments to BCCI during the Iran Contra scandal. Rappaport died in January 2010. The New York Times reported Rappaport was close friends of the former CIA director William Casey, who was implicated in both the Iran-Contra and BCCI. Rappaport owned companies in more countries than can be tracked, all with obscure names that are just acronyms. According to The Times, Rappaport was a big financial backer of the Iraq oil pipeline project in the 1980s and was hired by Iran to lobby the United States to help get some kind of assurance if they built the 540 mile oil pipeline to Israel that the Israelis wouldn't just damage it like they did during the Iran/Iraq war. A State Department statement on the topic said, 'Iran had destroyed Iraq's oil terminals in the Persian Gulf early in the Iran-Iraq war. The proposed 540-mile pipeline, running from Iraq's Kirkuk oil fields to the Jordanian port of Aqaba near the Red Sea, would have more than doubled that nation's oil exports. It also would have been a 'trade bonanza' for the United States and the companies seeking to build it.'"

WMR learned from sources close to Mossad that one of the chief Iraqi interlocutors on the pipeline deal was then-Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz, now imprisoned and in failing health in an Iraqi prison recently transferred to Iraqi government control from the U.S. military occupation authorities.

Rappaport served as Antigua's ambassador to Israel under former Antiguan Prime Minster Lester Bird, whose administration ended in 2004 when Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer ended the Bird family's long reign of ruling the island since independent from Great Britain. Lester Bird had illegally sold Rappaport 75 percent of WIOC in the 1980s, which was only revealed to the citizens of Antigua in a New York Times article, which sparked tremendous controversy and eventually led to a lawsuit filed by Prime Minister Spencer against Rappaport, Bird, and several other Antiguan officials.

In February 2009, just two days before the SEC filed its suit against Stanford, Rappaport paid the Antiguan government $12 million to settle a $45 million lawsuit filed by the Spencer administration for a scandal involving WIOC. The suit alleged that Rappaport-owned IHI, a debt settlement company in Hong Kong, had loaned Antigua $45 million in 1996 as part of the debt consolidation. The terms of the loan specified a 25-year term with payment of $400,000 per month, of which only $200,000 was actually going to IHI. The other $200,000 per month was going to Lester Bird. Antiguan member of Parliament Asot Michael, a defendant in the suit, was represented by Hunton & Williams, the law firm based out of Virginia that also represented Allen Stanford and Stanford International Bank and has refused to release files to the U.S. Justice Department. Stanford's trial is not scheduled to begin until January 2011.

The International Monetary Fund cited the SEC lawsuit in the April 2009 country report on Antigua, saying there was corruption within the government. The report referenced no "recent" expropriation of property, despite Antiguan court proceedings to "compulsorily acquire" 49 Stanford-owned properties two months prior.

Democratic and Republican Party Connections to Stanford's Antigua scam

Ross Gaffney, a former FBI agent who oversaw a task force investigating Stanford's operations in the late 1980s at his first offshore bank, Guardian International in Montserrat, explained the FBI had "solid intelligence" on Stanford's alleged money laundering activities in the late 1980s. And, while that intelligence was enough to get Stanford's banking license revoked in Montserrat, Gaffney said the Justice Department would have never have been able to successfully prosecute the charges because of the circuitous route the funds took to get to Guardian International. According to Gaffney, Stanford was laundering money for the Medellin drug cartel and the money would go from Colombia through Ecuador and through several shell companies and correspondent banks before being deposited in Guardian in Montserrat.

WMR previously reported that Stanford was protected in Ecuador by Peter Romero, Stanford Financial Group's Advisory Council member and former US Ambassador to Ecuador and Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs in the Clinton administration. Other possible "helpers" on Stanford's Advisory Council were Jorge Castaneda, the former Mexican Foreign Minister; Lee Brown, Drug Czar for the Clinton administration and former mayor of Houston; Adolf Ogi, former president of Switzerland; and Alfredo Arízaga, former minister of finance of Ecuador.

This complex pattern of international involvement, as well as Allen Stanford's high profile associations with numerous U.S. government officials lend credibility to what Atlanta journalist Robert Coram laid out in his 1993 book, Caribbean Time Bomb: The United States Complicity in the government of Antigua – and perhaps explains it all:

"Any U.S. military aircraft, or aircraft owned by the CIA, DEA, or other agencies, can land on Antigua without prior notice, without prior approval, without the crew having to go through Antiguan Customs, and without any record being kept of the landing. This unusual arrangement is invaluable for all sorts of mischievous operations in the Caribbean and Central or South America. U.S. special operations troops have exercises in Antiguan waters and are given considerable latitude in large parachute drops and in storming beaches. Until a few years ago, they were allowed to blow up reefs as part of their training. The price to play in this little sandbox appears to be that Uncle Sam will ignore all shenanigans of the Antigua government, including abuse of its own citizens."

On June 8, 2010, the IMF announced it had finalized a $117 million loan to Antigua. The U.S. Director of the IMF voted in favor of the loan!

In November 2009, Senator Richard Shelby, with seven bipartisan co-sponsors, introduced a Senate Resolution to block aid to Antigua until it released the Stanford properties, and paid all outstanding loans and other payments made by Stanford "for the purpose of subverting regulatory oversight." The Resolution stated, "it is the sense of the Senate that the Secretary of the Treasury should direct the United States Executive Directors to the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to use the voice and vote of the United States to ensure that any loan made by the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank to the Government of Antigua and Barbuda is conditioned on providing complete redress to the victims…." The Resolution was referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which has agreed to hold a hearing on this issue on July 29, but they will not invite the IMF, the Treasury Department, or the State Department to testify. The Obama administration appears intent on burying the Antigua and Stanford issue far into the ground. A House of Representatives companion to the Senate Resolution was introduced in the House of Representatives on March 2, 2010, by Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO), on behalf of Natalia Querard of H.M.B. Holdings Limited. Querard, an American citizen who had her property, the Half Moon Bay Resort, stolen from her in 2002. Nothing has happened with the House Resolution.

Adding insult to injury, on June 10, 2010 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced an additional $162 million in humanitarian aid for AIDS and H.I.V. treatment in Antigua, on top of the already committed Caribbean Basin Initiative funds allocated for this year. In a joint speech with Antigua's Prime Minster Baldwin Spencer, Clinton promised increased US participation in the Eastern Caribbean region as she said "We are back 100 percent….We are back and we are committed." Spencer responded with "our futures are intertwined." The $162 million allocated mid-year in the middle of a spending freeze is coming from the Department of Defense. A July 1, 2010, New York Times article titled "Slump Cripples Aid for Drugs to Treat H.I.V." discusses how thousands of Americans from across the country with H.I.V. and AIDS are on waiting lists and being denied medical treatment because of a lack of funding.

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