Alan Stanford bowled out by the jury in Houston, Texas.

Stanford convicted of $7bn fraud
Allen Stanford arrives at the Federal Courthouse in Houston, Texas,
today. Photograph: Richard Carson/ReutersAllen Stanford arrives at the
Federal Courthouse in Houston, Texas, today. Photograph: Richard
Carson/Reuters

Texas tycoon R. Allen Stanford was convicted today of defrauding
investors out of more than $7 billion in a massive Ponzi scheme he
operated for 20 years.

Jurors reached their verdicts against Stanford during their fourth day
of deliberation, finding him guilty on all charges except a single
count of wire fraud.

Stanford, once considered one of the wealthiest people in the US,
looked down when the verdict was read. His mother and daughters, who
were in the federal courtroom in Houston, hugged one another, and one
of the daughters started crying.

“We are disappointed in the outcome. We expect to appeal,” Ali Fazel,
one of Stanford’s lawyers, said after the hearing. He said the judge’s
gag order on lawyers from both sides prevented him from commenting
further, and prosecutors declined to comment.

Prosecutors called Stanford a con artist who lined his pockets with
investors’ money to fund a string of failed businesses, pay for a
lavish lifestyle that included yachts and private jets, and bribe
regulators to help him hide his scheme.

His lawyers told jurors the financier was a visionary entrepreneur who
made money for investors and conducted legitimate business deals.

Stanford (61) who has been jailed since his indictment in 2009, will
remain incarcerated until he is sentenced.

He faces up to 20 years for the most serious charges against him, but
the once high-flying businessman could spend longer than that behind
bars if US District Judge David Hittner orders the sentences to be
served consecutively instead of concurrently.

With Stanford’s conviction, a shorter, civil trial will be held with
the same jury on prosecutors’ efforts to seize funds from more than 30
bank accounts held by the financier or his companies around the world,
including in Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Canada. The civil
trial could take as little as a day.

Stanford was once considered one of the wealthiest people in the US
with an estimated net worth of more than two billion dollars. But he
had court-appointed lawyers after his assets were seized.

During the more than six-week trial, prosecutors methodically
presented evidence, including testimony from ex-employees as well as
emails and financial statements, they said showed Stanford
orchestrated a 20-year scheme that bilked billions from investors
through the sale of certificates of deposit, or CDs, from his bank on
the Caribbean island nation of Antigua.

They said Stanford, whose financial empire was headquartered in
Houston, lied to depositors from more than 100 countries by telling
them their funds were being safely invested in stocks, bonds and other
securities instead of being funnelled into his businesses and personal
accounts.

The prosecution’s star witness – James M. Davis, the former chief
financial officer for Stanford’s various companies – told jurors he
and Stanford worked together to falsify bank records, annual reports
and other documents to conceal
the fraud.

Stanford had wanted to testify and jurors were told he would do so,
but his lawyers apparently convinced him not to take the witness
stand.

Stanford’s lawyers told jurors the financier was trying to consolidate
his businesses to pay back investors when authorities seized his
companies.

The lawyers highlighted his work to build up Antigua’s economy as well
as his philanthropic efforts on the island. Stanford, the largest
private employer on the island nation, was widely known as “Sir Allen”
after being knighted by
Antigua’s government.

The financier’s lawyers accused Davis of being behind the fraud and of
lying so he could get a reduced sentence. Davis pleaded guilty to
three fraud and conspiracy charges in 2009 as part of a deal he made
with prosecutors.

In February 2009, England’s cricketing chiefs severed all links with
Stanford, a day after FBI agents tracked him down.

English cricketers had been due to play a number of potentially
lucrative matches following in the format of a million-dollar-a-man,
winner-takes-all Twenty20 contest between England and a team of
Stanford Superstars in his
adopted home of Antigua the previous year.

Under a deal struck in 2008 between Stanford and the England and Wales
Cricket Board (ECB), England had been due to play four further 20
million dollar matches in the Caribbean. There were also plans for a
series of Quadrangular Twenty20 events, with the first taking place at
Lord’s in May 2009.

But the allegations levied against Stanford forced the ECB into a
rethink, and it announced that all contractual links had been
terminated.

Three other indicted former executives of Stanford’s companies are to
be tried in September. A former Antiguan financial regulator accused
of accepting bribes from Stanford was also indicted and he awaits
extradition to the US.

The financier’s trial was delayed after he was declared incompetent in
January 2011 due to an anti-anxiety drug addiction he developed in
jail and he underwent treatment. He was also evaluated for any
long-term effects from being injured in a September 2009 jail fight.
Stanford was declared fit for trial in December.

Stanford and the former executives are also fighting a US Securities
and Exchange Commission lawsuit filed in Dallas that makes similar
allegations.