Antigua PM to help recover fraud funds

Antigua PM to help recover fraud funds

Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer has pledged to work with other agencies to try and help recover money that victims across the globe lost to convicted Texas tycoon Allen Stanford through his bank based on the Caribbean island.

Spencer did not give details of the cooperation when he spoke with reporters after a U.S. Federal Court jury in Texas convicted Stanford of 13 of the 14 charges, including conspiracy, wire and mail fraud.

Prosecutors say the financier used his Stanford International Bank to swindle investors out of more than US$7 billion, using the money to fund a string of failed businesses.

Spencer said he feels justice was served with the U.S. verdict, but said it doesn’t bring real joy because he fears the verdict could provide more fuel to a U.S. victims’ coalition that has promoted a boycott of Antigua.

The group has sometimes set up booths at travel shows to urge holidaymakers to avoid the tourism dependent island.

“This is a very unfair campaign,” he said.

“This country was made out as a country that encouraged and gave sustenance, if you like, to such types of developments, and that clearly was not the case,” Spencer said.

Stanford was once the largest private employer in Antigua with 800 workers. He owned a cricket stadium, a restaurant, an airline, a newspaper and a development company.

U.S. prosecutors say they hope to seize about US$300 million from more than 30 Stanford-controlled companies including Switzerland, Britain and Canada through civil trial, which is being heard by the same jury that convicted the 61-year-old Stanford.

Spencer is yet to sign an extradition order to have Leroy King, the former director of Antigua’s Financial Services Regulatory Commission, who has been indicted in the U.S. on charges of accepting bribes to ignore irregularities in Stanford’s financial empire and of writing false and misleading letters to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sent to the U..S to face trial.

An Antigua judge recently upheld a decision that would allow King to be extradited to the U.S. King was removed from his post after the Stanford scandal broke.