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Editorial Results (free)

1. Court Considers Ending Stanford Class-Action Suits -

The Supreme Court is considering shutting down class-action lawsuits from investors who lost billions in former Texas tycoon R. Allen Stanford's massive Ponzi scheme.

2. Investors in $7 Billion Swindle Start Getting Payouts -

HOUSTON (AP) – Investors in a $7 billion Ponzi scheme orchestrated by R. Allen Stanford are starting to get back some of the money the former Texas financier squandered.

3. Microsoft Says CEO Ballmer to Retire in 12 Months -

NEW YORK (AP) – Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, known as much for his zany personality as his business discipline, will leave a legacy of mixed results and a monumental challenge for his yet-to-be-named successor.

4. Spring Creek Ranch Addition Tops Shelby County Commission Agenda -

Shelby County Commissioners consider an events center for Spring Creek Ranch golf course Monday, Aug. 5, as well as a mixed-use commercial site at Austin Peay Highway and Millington-Arlington Road by First Citizens National Bank.

5. Spring Creek Ranch Eyes Resort Status -

The Spring Creek Ranch golf course is ready to tee off in a major way. The private golf club north of Collierville is aiming to become more of a destination “resort” and is seeking to build a new special events center with a culinary arts school and microbrewery, along with cabins and a day spa, to attract a much wider audience.

6. Ex-Stanford Executive Gets 3 Years for Swindle -

A top executive in the now-defunct empire of disgraced Texas financier R. Allen Stanford was sentenced to three years in prison Thursday, Sept. 13, for her role in helping the once jet-setting businessman bilk investors out of more than $7 billion in one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in U.S. history.

7. Stanford Gets 110 Years for Role in $7B Swindle -

Former jet-setting Texas tycoon R. Allen Stanford, whose financial empire once spanned the Americas, was sentenced Thursday to 110 years in prison for bilking investors out of more than $7 billion over 20 years in one of the largest Ponzi schemes in U.S. history.

8. Control Over Ex-Tycoon Stanford's Assets at Issue -

HOUSTON (AP) – As former Texas tycoon R. Allen Stanford's criminal case gets ready to wind down with his sentencing Thursday for a $7 billion Ponzi scheme, the battle for control of his remaining assets around the globe still hasn't been settled.

9. Financier Stanford Convicted in $7 Billion Fraud -

HOUSTON (AP) – Texas tycoon R. Allen Stanford, whose financial empire once spanned the Americas, was convicted Tuesday on all but one of the 14 counts he faced for allegedly bilking investors out of more than $7 billion in massive Ponzi scheme he operated for 20 years.

10. Baby Boomers, Watch Out -

Ray’s Take Some Baby Boomers desperate to make up portfolio losses due to the financial crisis or “catching up” from years of under-saving are being victimized at record numbers by a number of financial frauds. In one year, the number of criminal complaints and other financial regulatory actions involving investors 50 or older more than doubled.

11. Memphian Testifies Against Financier Stanford -

HOUSTON (AP) – A former employee for Texas financier R. Allen Stanford says a farm hand and a preacher were among unqualified workers hired as financial analysts in one of Stanford's offices.

12. Prosecutor: Stanford Stole Investors' Money -

HOUSTON (AP) – Prosecutors say Texas financier R. Allen Stanford stole the hard-earned savings of investors, using the money like his own piggy bank so he could live the lavish lifestyle of a billionaire.

13. Jury Selection Begins in Stanford Fraud Trial -

HOUSTON (AP) – Jury selection has begun in the oft-delayed trial of jailed U.S. financier R. Allen Stanford, who is accused of bilking investors out of $7 billion in a vast Ponzi scheme.

14. Grizzlies Sued Over Stanford Funds -

The court-appointed receiver for disgraced financier R. Allen Stanford’s empire, along with an official group of Stanford investors, has added another Memphis name to the group of entities they’re suing.

15. Grizzlies Sued Over Stanford Funds; More Money Sought From Memphis Hospitals -

The court-appointed receiver for disgraced financier R. Allen Stanford’s empire, along with an official group of Stanford investors, has added another Memphis name to the group of entities they’re suing.

16. Psychiatrists Say Stanford Not Competent for Trial -

HOUSTON (AP) — Two psychiatrists testified Thursday that former Texas billionaire and financier R. Allen Stanford, who is set to go to trial at the end of the month on charges he bilked investors out of $7 billion in a Ponzi scheme, is not mentally competent to go forward with his case.

17. Prosecutors: 2-Year Stanford Trial Delay Too Long -

Federal prosecutors say they won't object to a delay of this month's scheduled trial of former high-flying Texas billionaire investor R. Allen Stanford but argue the two-year postponement sought by Stanford's lawyers is far too long.

18. SEC Has Toughened Enforcement, Agency Says -

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s chief enforcement official said the agency has toughened its efforts to shut down financial misconduct after failing to act quickly in the cases of R. Allen Stanford and Bernard Madoff.

19. Smith & Nephew Rescues Golf Tourney -

By agreeing to be the presenting sponsor of the 2010 St. Jude Classic, Smith & Nephew came to the rescue of a nonprofit organization that had given away almost all its assets because of a long-term commitment from Stanford Financial to be the golf tournament’s title sponsor.

20. Stanford Downfall Offers Lesson for Wary -

One thing appears clear one year after the alleged investment fraud that wrecked Stanford Financial Group: All that glitters is not gold.

Made popular in Shakespeare’s play “The Merchant of Venice,” the phrase was inside the golden casket a prince had chosen after deciding its appearance made it the obvious answer to a rich woman’s puzzle.

21. Judge Acquits 2 Ex-Stanford Employees -

MIAMI (AP) - Citing weak evidence, a federal judge on Friday acquitted two former employees of fallen financier Allen Stanford on charges they illegally shredded thousands of company documents to hinder the federal probe into an alleged $7 billion Ponzi scheme.

22. AP: Ponzi Collapses Nearly Quadrupled in '09 -

MIAMI (AP) - It was a rough year for Ponzi schemes. In 2009, the recession unraveled nearly four times as many of the investment scams as fell apart in 2008, with "Ponzi" becoming a buzzword again thanks to the collapse of Bernard Madoff's $50 billion plot.

23. 2009 Year In Review -

2009 was a year without a script – and plenty of improvising on the political stage.

It was supposed to be an off-election year except in Arlington and Lakeland.

2008 ended with voters in the city and county approving a series of changes to the charters of Memphis and Shelby County governments. Those changes were supposed to set a new direction for both entities, kicking into high gear in 2010 and ultimately culminating two years later.

24. IRS Seeks Identities of Investors in Stanford Bank -

DALLAS (AP) - The Internal Revenue Service wants the names of U.S. taxpayers who have foreign accounts with companies owned by indicted billionaire R. Allen Stanford, according to court papers filed Wednesday.

25. For Hopeful Sports Fans, Memphis Still Home of the Blues -

It’s often difficult being a sports fan around here, but the past two weeks have been especially brutal for Memphians.

The University of Memphis fired football coach Tommy West Monday after back-to-back outings in which the Tigers drew 4,117 fans for a nationally televised home game and then were shellacked on the road by Tennessee.

26. Stanford Receiver to Investors: Don’t Expect Much Back -

Under the most optimistic scenario, as much as 20 cents on the dollar could be returned to victims of the investment fraud that brought down Stanford Financial Group.

That’s among the findings in a status report filed in the Texas court where federal regulators are trying to prove Stanford was a financial house of lies built on an illusion of wealth. The status report was prepared by Dallas attorney Ralph Janvey, the court-appointed receiver whose team is mopping up what’s left of the network of assorted companies under the Stanford nameplate.

27. Stanford Legal Team Hints at Need for More Time -

Lawyers representing R. Allen Stanford, the jailed Texas financier accused of running a massive Ponzi scheme, say they have their work cut out for them.

28. Review: FINRA Needs Reform After Madoff, Stanford -

WASHINGTON (AP) - The brokerage industry's self-policing body must make reforms to protect investors after its inspections failed to uncover the massive Ponzi scheme run by Bernard Madoff and the alleged fraud by R. Allen Stanford, according to a special review.

29. Stanford Returned to Jail After Fight With Inmate -

Texas financier R. Allen Stanford was returned to lockup Sunday afternoon after being hospitalized for treatment of a concussion following a jail fight.

30. Beware of Stanford’s Echoes in Memphis -

The perp walks are a fading memory. So is R. Allen Stanford’s protestation of innocence during a night on the town earlier this year.

31. After the Fall: The messy cleanup of Stanford Financial -

R. Allen Stanford, the Texas billionaire now passing time in a Texas jail for his role in what U.S. regulators have called a “massive Ponzi scheme,” once told a roomful of his employees they ought to have three priorities in life.

32. Judge Appoints Public Defender for Stanford -

HOUSTON (AP) - A federal judge has appointed a public defender to represent jailed Texas billionaire financier R. Allen Stanford.

33. Stanford Back in Jail Following Aneurysm Surgery -

R. Allen Stanford, the jailed financier accused of bilking investors out of billions of dollars in a massive Ponzi scheme, had surgery for an aneurysm in his leg Wednesday morning, according to news accounts. The procedure followed a cardiac catheterization Stanford underwent earlier in the week.

34. Texas Billionaire Stanford Has Heart Test -

A lawyer for Texas billionaire R. Allen Stanford said his client has had a medical procedure that allows doctors to diagnose and treat certain heart conditions.

35. Stanford Receiver Wants Money Back from Advisers – Including Stanley -

The court-appointed receiver in charge of what remains of jailed Texas financier R. Allen Stanford’s business is going after money former Stanford advisers made from selling bogus certificates of deposit.

36. Plea Deal Reveals New Details About Swindle Case -

HOUSTON (AP) – The former finance chief for jailed Texas financier R. Allen Stanford said his boss created a business empire where blood oaths were taken to secure loyalty, bribes were paid from a secret Swiss bank account and investor profits were more fiction than financial genius.

37. Accused Financier Stanford Hospitalized -

HOUSTON (AP) – Texas financier R. Allen Stanford, jailed on charges of bilking investors out of $7 billion, has been hospitalized with an irregular heartbeat and high pulse, the judge in his case said Thursday.

38. Runaway Receiver at Odds With SEC in Stanford Case -

DALLAS (AP) – The attorney who’s supposed to clean up what the government says was Texas businessman R. Allen Stanford’s multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme is managing to anger just about every party involved in the case.

39. Paul Stanley's Fall From Grace -

Jim Kyle, a Memphis Democrat who serves as minority leader in the state Senate, gave the first lunchtime address of 2009 to the Memphis Rotary Club.

Rotarians got a bird’s-eye view of the state’s financial picture from Kyle, who described choices needed to close the state’s budget shortfall. Kyle this week announced his candidacy in the 2010 gubernatorial race.

40. Feds Try to Halt Civil Case Against Stanford -

The U.S. Department of Justice wants a federal judge in Texas to put the brakes on the first stages of a civil fraud case filed in February against Texas financier R. Allen Stanford and several former subordinates.

41. Attorney Says Stanford CFO Makes Plea Deal -

HOUSTON (AP) - The former chief financial officer of indicted Texas financier R. Allen Stanford's business empire will plead guilty to charges alleging he helped swindle investors out of $7 billion, his attorney said Wednesday.

42. Judge to Decide Tuesday on Stanford's Bond -

HOUSTON (AP) - A federal judge says he will decide by Tuesday afternoon on whether to revoke a bond for Texas financier R. Allen Stanford that would let him be free while he awaits trial on charges he swindled investors out of $7 billion.

43. Stanford's Lawyer Asks for Client to be Released -

HOUSTON (AP) - Defense attorneys are opposing a prosecutors' request to delay an order granting Texas billionaire R. Allen Stanford a bond that would free him until he is tried on charges he swindled investors out of $7 billion.

44. Billionaire Stanford Pleads Not Guilty To Fraud -

HOUSTON (AP) – Texas billionaire R. Allen Stanford pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges he swindled investors out of $7 billion as part of a massive investment scam.

Stanford entered his plea during his arraignment in federal court. Authorities have alleged that Stanford used his international banking empire as a pyramid scheme, which typically operates by paying off earlier investors with money collected from later investors.

45. Stanford Receiver Relentless On Legal Fees -

When the court appointee in charge of what’s left of Stanford Financial Group asked a judge’s permission last month to pay invoices of almost $20 million for the work he’s done so far, it wasn’t a popular request.

46. More Details Emerge After Stanford Indictment -

Federal prosecutors and financial regulators have unveiled new civil and criminal charges against disgraced Texas financier Allen Stanford and several former subordinates.

The charges include new details about the case against Stanford made public four months ago when regulators put the powerfully built Texan at the center of an alleged $8 billion investment fraud.

47. Stanford, SEC Talk Down Receiver’s Fee Requests -

It may be the only time Allen Stanford and the federal agency that helped dismantle his financial empire find something they can agree on.

48. Stanford Attorneys Bail On Humbled Financier -

Several attorneys working for the billionaire namesake of Stanford Financial Group have filed notice with a Texas court of their intent to withdraw from the case.

Meanwhile, Stanford’s former chairman, R. Allen Stanford, has another opponent chomping at the bit to enter the latest legal fray against him: his estranged wife, Susan.

49. Stanford Receiver Requests $20M To Pay Helper Firms -

Cleaning up the wreckage of a fallen financial giant that once cast a long shadow in Memphis apparently will be an expensive task.

The person in charge of what little remains of Texas billionaire R. Allen Stanford’s business empire has asked permission to pay invoices for fees and expenses totaling almost $20 million. That money would go to 14 companies that have helped Stanford’s court-appointed receiver, Ralph Janvey, roll up Stanford’s companies while preserving the estate’s value for investors.

50. Stanford Receiver Seeks $20 Million In Fees and Expenses -

The court-appointed receiver in charge of what little remains of Texas billionaire R. Allen Stanford’s business empire has asked permission to pay $20 million in fees and expenses to 14 companies who’ve worked on the Stanford case.

51. Holt First In Stanford Financial Trio To Be Indicted -

The chief investment officer for Texas financier Allen Stanford’s business empire before regulators shut it down three months ago is now the first Stanford executive indicted after a sweeping probe of the organization.

52. First Indictment In Stanford Financial Probe Names Holt -

The chief investment officer for Texas financier Allen Stanford’s business empire before regulators shut it down three months ago is now the first Stanford executive indicted after a sweeping probe of the organization.

53. SEC Letters Show Early Red Flags in Stanford Case -

“Is this possible and secure?”

The subject of that question was Stanford Financial Group, the business empire accused by federal regulators of perpetrating a multibillion-dollar investment fraud. An accountant who worked in Mexico’s banking industry asked it in a 2002 letter to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

54. Regulators Oppose Release Of Stanford Funds -

U.S. regulators are investigating whether R. Allen Stanford, the financier accused of running an $8 billion fraud, has violated a federal court order freezing his assets.

55. SEC Urges Keeping Stanford Assets Freeze -

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission wants a federal judge to say no to R. Allen Stanford’s request that $10 million of his assets be unfrozen to help cover his legal tab.

56. Stanford Receiver Details Finding -

The court-appointed receiver who’s been working to untangle the complicated financial web of the Stanford Financial group of companies last week gave a detailed look into what he’s done so far and why.

57. Stanford Receiver Details Findings - The court-appointed receiver who’s been working to untangle the complicated financial web of the Stanford Financial group of companies last week gave a detailed look into what he’s done so far and why.

The status report Dallas attorney Ralph Janvey filed in the Texas court where a sprawling federal case is unfolding against Stanford provides new details about the motivations, goals and progress of Janvey’s efforts. Janvey was appointed as Stanford’s receiver in February shortly after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil suit claiming the Stanford business empire was built on secrets, deception and a multibillion-dollar investment fraud.

Fighting back

Details of Janvey’s efforts come at the same time Stanford’s Chairman Allen Stanford, a billionaire Texan with a towering physique and a penchant for the game of cricket, has begun to raise his media profile. In an interview he gave to The New York Times, Stanford told the paper he can’t use any of the credit cards in his wallet, his bank accounts are frozen and he’s been locked out of his apartment on the island of St. Croix.

Far from pulling his punches in light of a looming criminal indictment, Stanford in the interview also blasted the SEC for “squandering” the assets of the assorted Stanford companies. He also called Janvey a “jerk” whose aides “can’t find their rear end from a hole in the ground,” according to The Times.

Stanford filed a sharply worded memorandum this month in the Texas court answering some of the charges against him. He said the Stanford receiver has seized all of his money, important records, most of his clothing and personal possessions.

The Stanford companies “provided service to thousands of valued clients,” his memo reads. “They employed thousands of honest, hard-working people. Stanford’s companies were real companies with real assets, real profits and real employees serving real clients.”

CD dealing

Meanwhile, Janvey’s report last week attempts to shed light on some of the things he has found.

He writes, for example, that Stanford’s operation consisted of more than 100 companies spread across the globe, with locations spanning 15 U.S. states and 13 countries in Europe, the Caribbean, Canada and Latin America.

Partly based on the work of a forensic accountant, the Stanford receiver believes the purpose of the combined Stanford operation was simple: bring in outside money through the sale of CDs issued by Stanford’s offshore bank. And to do that, brokers were paid handsomely through a compensation structure that made the whole enterprise unsustainable without the money generated from CD sales, according to the receiver.

“To the outside world … these financial businesses appeared to be independently viable,” reads the receiver’s status report. “The receiver believes, however, based on his investigation to date, that the principle purpose and focus of most of the combined operations was to attract and funnel outside investor funds into the Stanford companies through the sale of the CDs issued by Stanford’s offshore entity (Stanford International Bank).

“Once CD funds entered the Stanford companies, they were dispersed to Allen Stanford or to other Stanford-owned entities or used to purchase private equity and other investments, to pay CD redemptions and interest or to pay expenses and obligations.”

Following the trail

The receiver appears to believe Stanford’s far-flung operation – which included a now-shuttered Memphis office – arguably owed its continued existence to money brought into the organization via the CD sales. The Stanford empire had a strong Memphis connection, with an investment brokerage office here as well as offices at one time for both Stanford’s chief financial officer James Davis and chief investment officer Laura Pendergest-Holt, both of whom were named in the SEC complaint.

As of Feb. 22, the receiver’s data show about $7.2 billion worth of CDs were outstanding and in the hands of approximately 21,500 holders around the world. But much of the cash received from CD sales apparently cannot be found.

The receiver also has asked the accounting firm of Ernst & Young to compile balance sheets for Stanford’s companies because the receiver states almost all non-cash assets listed on Stanford’s Dec. 31 balance sheets are substantially overstated.

“Preliminary analysis of Stanford’s available financial records indicates that a very substantial amount of cash received upon sale of (the bank’s) CDs over the last few years … cannot be accounted for,” the receiver’s report reads. “Some of this cash may have been spent in ways that are not reflected in any of the available financial records … such as cash that may have been loaned to Allen Stanford or distributed to him as sole shareholder and then spent on personal consumption by him.

“This preliminary analysis suggests that the aggregate amount of such unaccounted-for cash may be in the range of $1 billion.”

...

58. Local Advisers Named in Suit to Recover Stanford Money -

The court-appointed receiver who’s taken charge of the Stanford Financial Group’s business empire filed a lawsuit Wednesday in an attempt to recover more than $40 million Stanford paid 66 financial advisers. Five of the advisers are from the Memphis area.

59. Local Advisers Named in Suit to Recover Stanford Money -

The court-appointed receiver who’s taken charge of the Stanford Financial Group’s business empire filed a lawsuit Wednesday in an attempt to recover more than $40 million Stanford paid out to 66 financial advisers. Five of the advisers are from the Memphis area.

That group collectively has $1.6 million in compensation the receiver is looking to get back:

Jon Barrack: $241,751

Norman Blake: $233,858

Charles Brickey: $212,709

Chuck Hughes: $301,074

Scott Notowich: $679,932

Ralph Janvey, a Dallas attorney operating as Stanford’s receiver, is looking to recover Stanford assets and secure the company’s business operations and holdings. The money he’s seeking via the lawsuit was paid as commissions and other compensation for the sale of Stanford’s certificates of deposits.

Those CDs are at the heart of what the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission believes is an $8 billion pyramid scheme. The SEC in February filed a civil complaint against Stanford, its chairman and two executives that, among other things, alleged the CDs were sold by promising inflated and near-impossible returns.

“Over just a two-year period, these financial advisers received commissions ranging in amounts from $2.6 million to $200,000, along with other incentive compensation, to promote the sales of CDs,” reads Janvey’s complaint filed this week in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

Janvey contends the money is appropriate for him to recover because it was paid to Stanford employees who continued to bring new investors in to buy the company’s allegedly fraudulent products.

Stanford chairman R. Allen Stanford, chief financial officer James Davis and chief investment officer Laura Pendergest-Holt “kept their fraudulent scheme going by using the (financial advisers) to lure new investors,” the complaint reads. “The commissions, loans and other compensation paid to (the advisers) came not from revenue generated by legitimate business activities, but from monies contributed by defrauded investors.”

As part of its U.S. presence, Stanford operated a brokerage office in the East Memphis Crescent Center, and the company’s chief investment officer and chief financial officer at one time both worked there. The closure of Stanford’s Memphis office as a result of the broader investigation meant the loss of 50 jobs, according to information from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

...

60. Pendergest-Holt Sues Former Stanford Atty. -

Laura Pendergest-Holt, the chief investment officer of Stanford Financial Group, has filed a lawsuit against Stanford’s former attorney and his firm that claims they “hung her out to dry” and seeks damages of more than $20 million.

61. Holt Sues Attorney In Stanford Financial Fallout -

Laura Pendergest-Holt, the chief investment officer of Stanford Financial Group, has filed a lawsuit against Stanford’s former attorney and his firm that claims they “hung her out to dry” and which seeks damages of more than $20 million.

62. SEC Sued by Fox Over Stanford-Related Info -

The Fox Business Network, a cable news channel and spinoff of the Fox News Network, has filed a lawsuit in New York against the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission related to the collapse of Stanford Financial Group.

63. IRS Files $226M Claim Against Stanford -

As a Texas receiver sifts through claims against Stanford Financial Group, one creditor has asked to skip toward the front of the line – the Internal Revenue Service.

In a motion filed Friday “at the direction of the Attorney General of the United States,” the IRS claims R. Allen Stanford and soon-to-be-ex-wife Susan Stanford owe more than $226 million in federal income taxes, an amount that includes penalties and interest.

64. Miami Meetings at Center of Stanford Woes -

Thomas Sjoblom, an attorney at the international law firm Proskauer Rose LLP, walked into the office of a female Stanford Financial Group executive in Miami after a tense series of private meetings earlier on a February day with Stanford’s top brass.

65. Stanford Exec’s Lawyers Claim Gov’t Attorneys Mistreated Her -

Lawyers for Laura Pendergest-Holt, the chief investment officer of Stanford Financial Group whom federal investigators believe helped perpetrated a massive investment fraud, fired back in court this week.

66. Judge ‘Unfreezes’ Some Stanford Accounts -

A federal judge issued an order Thursday lifting a freeze on about 12,000 investor accounts with Texas billionaire R. Allen Stanford that were valued at $250,000 or less as of Feb. 28, at the request of the court-appointed receiver in the Stanford case.

67. Doubt Cast on $50 Billion Figure in Madoff Case -

NEW YORK (AP) - Bernard Madoff and $50 billion.

His name and that number have become inseparable in describing the enormity of what has been called the largest white-collar fraud in history. It's a figure that has helped demonize Madoff and relegate big-time money managers charged in subsequent securities schemes to mere "mini-Madoff" status.

68. Stanford Accounts To Remain Frozen -

A federal judge ruled Monday that thousands of investor accounts with Texas billionaire R. Allen Stanford’s financial companies will remain frozen for another 10 days, and a court-appointed receiver said he’s developing a plan to return some of the money to its owners.

69. SEC Calls Stanford "Massive Ponzi Scheme" -

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has filed an amended complaint in Texas against three executives of the Stanford Financial Group family of companies charged last month by the SEC with defrauding investors.

70. UPDATE: SEC Calls Stanford "Massive Ponzi Scheme" -

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed an amended complaint in Texas this afternoon against three executives of the Stanford Financial Group family of companies charged last month by the SEC with defrauding investors.

71. Stanford Chief Investment Officer Charged, in Custody in Houston -

Laura Pendergest-Holt, the chief investment officer of the Stanford Financial Group family of companies who was charged last week in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission civil case, now faces criminal charges.

72. Red Flags Abounded During SEC Probe Of Stanford Cos. -

WASHINGTON (AP) – As with the Bernard Madoff case, the scandal surrounding billionaire R. Allen Stanford now seems clear and obvious in hindsight. Yet Stanford managed to run his alleged scheme even while the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and other regulators investigated his businesses.

73. Scope of Stanford Scandal Vast, Deep -

When the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint in federal court last week accusing Stanford Financial Group of defrauding billions from investors, the case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Sam Lindsay.

74. Questioning Stanford’s Returns Could Get You Fired -

WASHINGTON (AP) – While R. Allen Stanford’s investors were swallowing claims of vast returns on safe investments, some of his employees weren’t so sure.

75. Stanford Attorney Quits Following CIO’s Testimony - Facing five representatives of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement, the chief investment officer of the Stanford Financial Group family of companies – a woman with close ties to Memphis – raised her right hand.

It was a little after 1 p.m. Tuesday Feb. 10, in the SEC’s office in Fort Worth, Texas. After being put under oath, SEC branch chief Michael King asked Stanford’s chief investment officer Laura Pendergest-Holt to spell her name for the record.

Exactly one week later – the following Tuesday – the SEC raided Stanford offices in multiple cities, including the company’s plush East Memphis digs in The Crescent Center. The agency charged Pendergest-Holt, along with chief financial officer James Davis and Chairman R. Allen Stanford with “a fraud of shocking magnitude” that involved defrauding and luring investors with inflated claims about the company’s products including its certificates of deposit.

Eyes on Texas

The timing of the SEC’s movement against Stanford is related to what happened in that Fort Worth office Feb. 10 – possibly in more ways than one.

For almost four hours, the SEC officials quizzed Pendergest-Holt, who in 2006 was named to the Memphis Business Journal’s Top 40 under 40, a ranking that honors the area’s local business leaders. In the room with her was Thomas Sjoblom, an attorney with the international law firm Proskauer Rose LLP who represented the Stanford company.

Whether the testimony he heard Pendergest-Holt give that day influenced an action he took the next day is unclear. But with little explanation, Sjoblom officially quit representing Stanford Financial’s affiliated companies the day after Pendergest-Holt’s testimony, according to court records the SEC filed last week along with its complaint against Stanford.

Before entering private practice, Sjoblom had worked for the SEC for 20 years. From 1987 to 1999, he was an assistant chief litigation counsel in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement – the same division of the agency whose representatives were peppering Pendergest-Holt with questions Feb. 10.

After she was put under oath, Sjoblom immediately got down to business.

Pre-empting the SEC officials, according to a transcript of the day’s testimony, he asked: “First of all, has there been a criminal referral in this matter?”

King told him that he and his client had been provided with an SEC Form 1662. Among other things, that form reads, “The commission often makes its files available to other governmental agencies, particularly United States Attorneys and state prosecutors. There is a likelihood that information supplied by you will be made available to such agencies where appropriate.”

At press time, criminal charges had not yet been filed against the three executives who were the subject of SEC civil charges last week.

Sjoblom followed that up with another question about whether the SEC is currently working with the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Northern District of Texas or elsewhere.

“Mr. Sjoblom, I just referred you to SEC Form 1662,” King replied.

Objections

Sjoblom pressed on. Before Pendergest-Holt began her testimony, he brought up a question of whether the SEC had authority to probe matters related to Stanford’s banking arm, which operates on the Caribbean island of Antigua.

The SEC complaint alleges that most of the bank’s investment portfolio was purportedly monitored from Memphis.

“OK,” Sjoblom said. “Next, before you start asking questions ... there’s certainly an issue here whether or not the certificates of deposit are securities. So I have an objection to the purported jurisdiction of the SEC over this instrument.

“Secondly, it’s my view that the bank is located – that’s Stanford International Bank – is located outside the jurisdiction of the United States and there is no jurisdiction by the SEC over that bank and its product lines and, hence, over the information that, I’m sure, you’re going to seek to elicit today.”

Nevertheless, the testimony proceeded. The line of questioning from the SEC officials focused on filling in both personal and professional details about Pendergest-Holt.

They learned, for example, that she was about 23 years old when she joined Stanford in June 1997. They also learned enough to allege in their complaint that she trained employees below her to mislead investors.

The SEC’s complaint says Pendergest-Holt supervised “a group of analysts in Memphis, Tupelo and St. Croix, (U.S. Virgin Islands).”

Cutting ties

The Stanford lawyer in the room while Pendergest-Holt gave her testimony, however, soon removed himself from the picture. He gave notice to the SEC Feb. 11, the day after her testimony, that his firm was no longer Stanford’s counsel.

He followed that up with a Feb. 12 fax to Kevin Edmundson, the assistant regional director in the SEC’s Forth Worth office, and left a voice mail message for him the next evening.

Finally, Sjoblom typed a note on his BlackBerry to Edmundson a little after 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 14. It read: “Kevin, this will advise the SEC, and confirm my voice message last evening, that I disaffirm all prior oral and written representations made by me and my associates ... to the SEC staff regarding Stanford Financial Group and its affiliates.”

Three days later, the SEC swung into action, charging the Stanford officials with what Rose Romero, regional director of the SEC’s Fort Worth Regional Office, called a “fraud of shocking magnitude that has spread its tentacles throughout the world.”

...

76. Stanford Bank’s Investors Go Home Empty-Handed -

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua (AP) – Venezuela on Thursday seized a failed bank controlled by Texas billionaire R. Allen Stanford after a run on deposits there, while clients were prevented from withdrawing their money from Stanford International Bank and its affiliates in a half-dozen other countries.

77. Stanford Deployed Web of Lies, Documents Show -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Disgraced banker R. Allen Stanford’s pitch to investors was equal parts glamour and flattery.

78. Details Emerge in Stanford Fraud Case -

Word of the $50 billion Ponzi scheme perpetrated by a New York businessman was still a hot topic in the investment community when a note to depositors appeared on Stanford International Bank’s Web site.

79. STANFORD SHOCKER -

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has charged a Texas billionaire whose family of companies has deep ties to Memphis with an $8 billion securities fraud.

Asking for “emergency relief to halt a massive, ongoing fraud,” a complaint issued by the SEC Tuesday alleges the businessman, R. Allen Stanford – chairman of the Stanford Financial Group of companies – schemed to sell about $8 billion worth of certificates of deposit that promise higher returns than would have been available with genuine CDs offered by traditional banks.

80. Stanford Financial Chairman Charged With $8B Fraud - The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has charged a Texas billionaire whose family of companies has deep ties to Memphis with an $8 billion securities fraud.

Asking for "emergency relief to halt a massive, ongoing fraud," a complaint issued by the SEC Tuesday alleges the businessman, R. Allen Stanford – chairman of the Stanford Financial Group of companies – schemed to sell about $8 billion worth of certificates of deposit that promise higher returns than would have been available with genuine CDs offered by traditional banks.

Also named in the Texas complaint are James Davis, the chief financial officer of Stanford Financial Group Inc. who works in East Memphis’ Crescent Center, as well as Laura Pendergest-Holt, the chief investment officer of Stanford Financial Group. She supervises a group of analysts in Memphis, among other places, according to the SEC.

"Stanford and Davis have wholly failed to cooperate with the commission's efforts to account for the $8 billion of investor funds purportedly held by SIB (Stanford International Bank, the banking unit of the family of companies)," the SEC's complaint reads. "In short, approximately 90 percent of SIB's claimed investment portfolio resides in a 'black box' shielded from any independent oversight."

The particulars

Stanford's banking unit claims $8.5 billion in assets, and its brokerage unit reportedly has about $50 billion in assets. The SEC alleges the bulk of the banking unit’s investment portfolio was monitored by two people – Stanford and Davis.

The company and its executives cast a long shadow in Memphis, as does the sprawling complaint unveiled this week.

Law enforcement personnel Tuesday entered Stanford offices in the U.S. in more than one city, including Memphis. Memphis FBI officials could not be reached Tuesday afternoon, but were believed to be seizing records there.

The day before the SEC’s allegations were unveiled, a Stanford Financial Group spokesman told The Daily News the company was cooperating with investigators.

“Both FINRA (the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) and the SEC have stated to us that their recent visits to our offices were part of a routine examination,” said Brian Bertsch. “We have provided U.S. regulators with the information requested and intend to comply fully with any findings or recommendations they may issue.”

Bertsch would not confirm if the company’s Memphis office was one of six locations visited in January by the SEC and FINRA.

Far-reaching operation

More than three dozen police officers and other law enforcement officials entered two Stanford Group office buildings in Houston Tuesday morning, according to The New York Times.

Several key aspects of the case, meanwhile, point to activities of the company that unfolded in Memphis or are related to the Bluff City.

"SIB's multi-billion (dollar) portfolio of investments is purportedly monitored by SFG's chief financial officer in Memphis, Tenn.," according to the SEC. That executive, James Davis, refused to appear and give testimony in the SEC investigation.

Meanwhile, “The bank's (senior investment officer) was trained by Ms. Pendergest-Holt to tell investors that the bank's multi-billion (dollar) portfolio was ‘monitored’ by the analyst team in Memphis,” the SEC’s complaint reads. “In communicating with investors, the SIO followed Pendergest's instructions, misrepresenting that a team of 20-plus analysts monitored the bank’s investment portfolio. In so doing, the SIO never disclosed to investors that the analysts only monitor approximately 10 percent of SIB's money.

“In fact, Pendergest-Holt trained the SIO ‘not to divulge too much’ about oversight of the bank's portfolio because that information ‘wouldn’t leave an investor with a lot of confidence.’”

One spark that may have added fuel to the fire concerns allegations from former Stanford employees.

D. Mark Tidwell and Charles Rawl last year filed a wrongful termination suit in state court in Texas alleging “various unethical and illegal business practices, including overstating the asset value of individuals in a manner designed to mislead potential investors and purging electronic data from computers in response to an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission,” according to a court filing in the Texas case. “According to Tidwell and Rawl, they left the company after realizing that they could possibly be implicated in the alleged illegal acts.”

Wellspring of support

The charges cast a dark cloud over a company that has been a generous benefactor of several causes in Memphis.

In the most recent edition of the Stanford Eagle, the in-house magazine of Stanford Financial Group, Stanford is shown seated among a quartet of children who all appear to be patients of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. All of them are smiling, and one is sitting on the businessman’s knee, cradled in his arm.

St. Jude is among the many local causes supported by Stanford's business interests. The annual Stanford St. Jude Championship alone has raised more than $19 million for the hospital since 1970. Stanford signed on as the major sponsor in 2007 after FedEx shifted its involvement.

The Houston-based financial services company, which operates an investment brokerage office in Memphis, provides financial support to the hospital as its “corporate charity of choice,” according to the magazine.

In the most recent edition of the magazine, Tony Thomas, the son of St. Jude founder Danny Thomas, said Stanford’s chairman “has been a blessing for us and for the children and patients of St. Jude. … His support has resulted in $15 million in the last three years.”

Among the Memphis causes it supports, the Houston company is a corporate sponsor of the National Civil Rights Museum and a contributor to the Greater Memphis Arts Council, the Boys and Girls Club of Memphis and the Ave Maria Foundation of Memphis, according to a report from Stanford about its community investments. Stanford’s charitable foundation also is based in Memphis.

A reception several years ago to celebrate the company’s growth in Memphis was held at the home of local fashion designer Pat Kerr Tigrett, with guests including Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton and FedEx founder Frederick W. Smith, according to news accounts of the event.

...

81. Stanford Financial, Chairman Receive ALSAC/St. Jude Award -

ALSAC, the fundraising organization behind St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, has presented Stanford Financial Group and its chairman, Sir Allen Stanford, each with high honors for their contributions to the hospital and ALSAC.

82. Fullwood Joins inferno As Strategic Operations Director -

Kimberley Fullwood has joined inferno as strategic operations director.

Fullwood has more than 13 years of experience in project, traffic and operations management. Previously, she served as vice president of traffic and operations at HSR Business to Business Inc. in Cincinnati.

83. Askew Named National Director of Engineering Group -

Mark W. Askew, president of Askew Hargraves Harcourt & Associates Inc., was appointed to a two-year term as national director of the American Council of Engineering Cos. of Tennessee. Askew is a civil engineer with 30 years of structural engineering experience.

84. Archived Article: Memos - Lucian T

Lucian T. Pera, an attorney with Armstrong Allen, is one of the newest members of the American Law Institute. A Memphis native, Pera received a bachelors degree from Princeton University and a law degree from Vanderbilt University law sc...

85. Archived Article: Memos - Randall D Randall D. Noel was elected president of the Tennessee Legal Community Foundation at the annual meeting of the Tennessee Bar Association last month. Noel is a litigation partner with Armstrong Allen PLLC where he has practiced for 22 years...