A federal indictment against Texas billionaire Allen Stanford is not likely before the end of April, one of his lawyers said on Thursday.
I don't think an indictment will come at least until the end of the month, Dick DeGuerin, a Houston criminal attorney working for Stanford, told Reuters. But an indictment shouldn't come at all.
Stanford, three of his companies and two top aides are accused by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission of running an $8 billion Ponzi scheme involving high-yield certificates of deposit issued by his bank in Antigua.
DeGuerin said he expected any criminal charges to be filed in Houston, so Stanford is in the process of moving here.
We are negotiating on a lease for a condo, DeGuerin said, adding that his client is eager to answer any charges.
Also on Thursday, the receivers in charge of Stanford's operations in Antigua said they are liquidating Stanford International Bank Ltd, which is deep in the red.
It quickly became apparent that there were a large number of investors seeking to withdraw funds and the bank's cash reserves were wholly inadequate, Nigel Hamilton-Smith, the bank's receiver, said in a statement. It is also now apparent that the assets of SIB are insufficient to meet the level of liabilities.
The liquidators said they are unable to forecast the extent of the bank's deficit at this time, but it is likely to be substantial.
DeGuerin blamed the SEC for creating a panicky environment that sparked a run on the offshore bank in the days following the announcement of the government's civil fraud charges.
Hamilton-Smith and Peter Wastell, partners at Vantis Business Recovery Services, a division of Vantis, were named joint liquidators for Stanford International Bank Ltd on April 15 by an Antiguan court.
The bank's accounts will remain frozen as the receivers continue their hunt for funds, and the distribution of assets is not expected any time soon, Hamilton-Smith said.
Stanford, a flamboyant financier and sports patron, is the largest private employer on the twin-island Caribbean state of Antigua and Barbuda. In addition to the bank, Stanford owns the country's largest newspaper.
DeGuerin said he and Stanford have assembled a team of lawyers in Texas, Chicago, the Caribbean and Great Britain. The alleged scheme encompasses Stanford operations and investors from Latin America, North America and Europe.
Stanford, whose personal fortune was estimated at $2.2 billion in 2008 by Forbes Magazine, has had his assets frozen by a court-appointed receiver in the United States. In previous court filings, he told a judge he is unable to pay a lawyer to defend him.
DeGuerin said he plans to ask the U.S. District Court in Dallas -- where the civil charges are filed -- to release funds to pay Stanford's legal team.
I hope the court will realize that it's not fair to tie someone's hands behind their back and then throw them in a ring and tell them to fight, DeGuerin said.
(Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Brian Moss)