Receiver sets $1.5B target for Stanford investors

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The lawyer tracking down money lost in what authorities say was a massive Ponzi scheme run by R. Allen Stanford says he hopes to gain control of more than $1.5 billion that would be then returned to jilted investors.

Court-appointed receiver Ralph Janvey filed a report in federal court in Dallas late Wednesday outlining his plan to go after the $1.5 billion and provide allegedly defrauded Stanford investors a return of as much as 20 cents on the dollar.

But John Little, a lawyer appointed to represent investors, said Janvey’s recovery goal is “something of a fantasy” and that investors should prepare to get back as little as 2 cents on the dollar.

Authorities accuse Stanford of leading a $7 billion Ponzi scheme by promising inflated returns to about 28,000 investors on certificates of deposits at his Antiguan bank. The Securities and Exchange Commission said Stanford instead used the money from new investors to pay off old ones. They also accuse him of skimming more than $1 billion to fund his lavish lifestyle.

Stanford denies the allegations. His attorney did not return a message left by The Associated Press.

Janvey, who is winding down Stanford’s businesses and collecting a pot of money to return to investors, has about $71 million in cash on hand. He is pursuing the rest through lawsuits and other means.

According to court papers, Janvey believes he can get as much as an additional $44 million by liquidating Stanford-owned assets and selling the Stanford Bank of Panama.

Whether the receiver reaches his goal of $1.5 billion hinges on a federal appeals court approving his plan to pursue nearly $900 million in claims against investors and former financial advisers. The appeals court is scheduled to hear arguments on the case Monday.

A federal district judge in July ruled that Janvey could not go after the principal that people invested in the CDs. The SEC and other parties have asked the appeals court to limit Janvey’s ability to pursue claims to people who profited from Stanford’s alleged scheme. Janvey also wants to go after investors who lost money.

Little said he believes a total recovery of around $150 million is more realistic than the $1.5 billion Janvey wants to get, in part because the courts rarely permit a receiver to go after investors who are “net losers.” The SEC branded Janvey’s plan to sue net loser investors as “an extraordinarily expensive effort” that is “not necessary or appropriate in the first place.”

Kristie Blumenschein, an attorney in Janvey’s Dallas law firm, acknowledged that “the ultimate success of these efforts is necessarily uncertain.”

In other court filings, the SEC is opposing Janvey’s latest request for payment for fees and expenses. Janvey asked for $8.9 million for June through August to pay himself and the large team of lawyers and consultants he hired to wind down Stanford’s businesses and unravel his alleged schemes. That would bring his total bill from mid-February to the end of August to nearly $30 million.

Little, meanwhile, filed a request for nearly $240,000 in fees covering his work from July through September. Janvey opposes Little’s fee request, but the SEC, Stanford and other defendants do not.

Besides the civil case in Dallas, Stanford and some executives of the Stanford Financial Group are accused in a criminal indictment in Houston of orchestrating the alleged fraud. Stanford and executives Laura Pendergest-Holt, Gilberto Lopez and Mark Kuhrt have pleaded not guilty to various criminal charges in Houston, including wire and mail fraud.

The three executives are free on bond; Stanford remains jailed.

James M. Davis, Stanford’s former chief financial officer, pleaded guilty to three counts: conspiracy to commit mail, wire and securities fraud; mail fraud; and conspiracy to obstruct the investigation.

Source: The Associated Press

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