Former Texas billionaire Allen Stanford was yesterday sentenced by a US District Judge in Houston to 110 years in prison for orchestrating one of the largest Ponzi schemes in US history.
Stanford was convicted by a jury in March on 13 of 14 fraud-related counts for taking more than $7 billion (£4.5 billion) from investors.
A Ponzi scheme is a fraud that pays returns to its investors from their own money or the money paid by subsequent investors, rather than from profit earned by the individual or organisation running the operation.
The jury also cleared the way for US authorities to seize millions in bank accounts connected to the 62-year-old.
Prosecutors said Stanford orchestrated a 20-year scheme that took billions through the sale of certificates of deposit from his Caribbean bank.
Stanford’s lawyers argued that he was a legitimate businessman.
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 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 $20m (£13m) 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.
Prosecutors had asked that Stanford be sentenced to 230 years in prison, the maximum sentence possible. Stanford’s lawyers had sought a maximum of 44 months, a sentence he could have completed within about eight months because he has been jailed since his arrest in June 2009.
During yesterday’s sentencing hearing, Stanford gave a rambling statement to the court in which he denied any wrongdoing.
Speaking for more than 40 minutes, Stanford said he was a scapegoat and blamed the federal government and a US-appointed receiver who took over his companies for tearing down his business empire and preventing his investors from getting any of their money back.
“I’m not here to ask for sympathy or forgiveness or to throw myself at your mercy,” Stanford told Judge David Hittner. “I did not run a Ponzi scheme. I didn’t defraud anybody.”
Stanford was once considered one of the richest men in the US, with an estimated net worth of more than $2 billion (£1.3 billion). His financial empire stretched from the US to Latin America and the Caribbean. But after his arrest, all of his assets were seized and he had to rely on court-appointed lawyers to defend him.
Calling Stanford arrogant and remorseless, prosecutors said he used the money from investors who bought certificates of deposit, or CDs, from his bank in Antigua to fund a string of failed businesses, bribe regulators and pay for a lavish lifestyle that included yachts, a fleet of private jets and sponsorship of cricket tournaments.