VOL. 124 | NO. 87 | Tuesday, May 5, 2009
SEC Urges Keeping Stanford Assets Freeze
By Andy Meek
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.
In court papers filed Monday, the SEC argued the request by the former chairman of the Stanford Financial Group family of companies should be denied on several grounds. One reason is the Texas federal court where the SEC’s sprawling securities fraud case against Stanford is pending does not have jurisdiction to release any of the money, regulators argue.
The SEC has accused Stanford and his companies of perpetrating a multibillion-dollar fraud centered around the sale of certificates of deposit that promised inflated or impossible returns. The Stanford business empire included a major presence in Memphis, where the company had a now-shuttered brokerage office.
After the SEC filed its civil case against Stanford and his companies in February, the agency put a freeze on Stanford’s assets. Stanford’s former chairman later appealed the order allowing that freeze to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
“His motion (for release of some funds), however, seeks to modify the very order that he has taken up on appeal,” the SEC writes in its opposition to Stanford’s request. “Stanford can’t have it both ways. In pursuing his appeal, Stanford has effectively stripped the district court of jurisdiction over the preliminary injunction, including the asset freeze provisions.”
Federal regulators are also taking a hard line against Stanford’s request to release some of his money because of its possible connection to the fraud he’s accused of. They say he has not provided an accounting of the money he wants access to that would justify releasing funds that otherwise deserve to stay in the pot of money comprising the Stanford estate.
In defense of his request, Stanford wrote in his motion seeking access to the funds that the SEC basically caused a run on his bank and created the fear that led to the collapse of his companies.
The Stanford companies “provided service to thousands of valued clients,” his motion 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.”