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Stanford Financial Group

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Title: Stanford Financial Group  
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Subject: Allen Stanford, Bank of Antigua, Stanford International Bank, February 2009, Laura Pendergest-Holt
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Stanford Financial Group

Stanford Financial Group
Former type Privately owned
Industry Global financial services
Genre Global financial services
Fate Placed in receivership on allegations that this company was a Ponzi scheme
Founders Robert Allen Stanford
Defunct February 17, 2009
Headquarters Houston, Texas, United States
Key people Robert Allen Stanford, chairman and CEO
Laura Pendergest-Holt, chief investment officer
James Davis, CFO
Services Wealth management
Owners Robert Allen Stanford
Divisions Stanford Capital Management
Stanford Group Company
Stanford International Bank Ltd
Website .com.stanfordfinancialgroupwww (offline)

The Stanford Financial Group was a privately held international group of financial services companies controlled by Allen Stanford, until it was seized by United States (U.S.) authorities in early 2009. Headquartered in the Galleria Tower II in Uptown Houston, Texas, it had 50 offices in several countries, mainly in the Americas, included the Stanford International Bank, and said it managed US$8.5 billion of assets for more than 30,000 clients in 136 countries on six continents.[1][2] On February 17, 2009, U.S. Federal agents put the company under management of a receiver, because of charges of fraud.[3][4] On February 27, 2009, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission amended its complaint to describe the alleged fraud as a "massive Ponzi scheme".[5]


Allen Stanford traced his company to the insurance company founded in 1932 in Mexia, Texas, by his grandfather, Lodis B. Stanford.[6][7] However there was no direct connection between the insurance company and Allen Stanford's banking business, which he started on the British Overseas Territory of Montserrat in the West Indies in the 1980s.[8] Allen Stanford's move into banking utilised funds he had made in real estate in Houston in the early 1980s.[7]

In 2008, Stanford Financial Group announced it would open a new global management complex in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, to include the base for the corporate support functions such as business technology, compliance, finance, human resources, investment strategy and legal, as well as the chairman's office. Completion was planned for July 2009, but this will now not occur due to the company's dissolution.

Galleria Tower II, the headquarters of Stanford Financial Group in Houston
Offices for Stanford Financial Group in Houston – This building formerly had the headquarters
Stanford Aviation Terminal at Sugar Land Regional Airport

The company was bound by a web of personal and family ties. Stanford's chief financial officer and second-in-command, James M. Davis, was his roommate at Baylor University. The chief investment officer, Laura Pendergest-Holt, grew up attending a church in Baldwyn, Mississippi where Davis was a Sunday school teacher. Many top officials were related to each other. This led former employees to claim the company was fraught with nepotism; former executive Charles Satterfield told Bloomberg News that whenever someone asked questions, a common response was "I'm not going to question my brother-in-law."[9]

Affiliated companies

Stanford Financial Group comprises several affiliated companies:

  • Stanford Capital Management, investment adviser, based on Houston[1]
  • Stanford Group Company, broker-dealer, based in Houston
  • Stanford International Bank, was started in 1986 in Montserrat where it was called Guardian International Bank. Allen Stanford relocated its operations to Antigua.[10] On 19 February 2009 Nigel Hamilton-Smith and Peter Wastell of the British accounting firm Vantis were appointed joint receivers of the bank,[11] and were made liquidators on 15 April 2009.[12] In June 2010, the High Court of Antigua resolved that Vantis should be removed from its responsibilities. The firm, which had recently received government approval to sell the property assets, appealed the decision.[13]
  • Stanford Trust Company, helped manage and protect wealth.[14][15] Vantis was also appointed receivers of Stanford Trust Company.[16]
  • Bank of Antigua
  • Stanford Coins and Bullion

Sponsorships and charity

In 2007, Stanford Financial Group assumed title sponsorship of the Stanford St. Jude Championship, a top PGA Tour event to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital of Memphis, Tennessee. On March 20, 2009, after the Group's fraud was revealed, the PGA announced that they would be dropping their affiliation with the company and that for 2009 the event would be called the St. Jude's Classic.[17]

Stanford Financial Group was the lead financier for the 2007 film The Ultimate Gift,.[18][19] According to the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy, the story of The Ultimate Gift promoted philanthropy in not-for-profit health care institutions.[18]

The group established a significant presence in Sony Ericsson Open. Stanford also sponsored the Champions Series Tennis Tournaments featuring Jim Courier, John McEnroe and Pete Sampras.

The Stanford Financial Tour Championship, previously known as the LPGA Playoffs at The ADT and the ADT Championship, was the season-ending golf tournament on the US-based LPGA Tour. Beginning with the 2009 event, it was to be sponsored by Stanford Financial Group.[20]

As one of the founding partners, Stanford Financial Group was also involved in Tiger Woods's annual golf tournament, the AT&T National.[21]

Regulatory investigation

During the week of February 13, 2009, Stanford issued a letter to clients saying: "Regulatory officers have visited our offices and have stated that these are routine examinations".[7] On February 17, 2009, U.S. Federal agents entered the company's Houston and Memphis offices.[22] Law enforcement officials placed signs on the office doors stating that the company was temporarily closed: "The company is still in operation but under the management of a receiver".[3]

"The company is still in operation but under the management of a receiver." —Signs placed February 17, 2009 at Houston office by law enforcement)

The Securities Exchange Commission's (SEC) charged Allen Stanford, Pendergest-Holt and Davis of fraud[1][5][23] in connection with Stanford Financial Group's US$8 billion certificate of deposit (CD) investment scheme that offered "improbable and unsubstantiated high interest rates".[24] This led the Federal government to freeze the assets of Allen Stanford, Stanford International Bank, Stanford Group Co., and Stanford Capital Management.[1] In addition, Stanford International Bank placed a 60-day moratorium on early redemptions of its CDs.[25]

On February 18 and 19, 2009, Ecuador and Peru suspended the operations of local Stanford units, and, in Venezuela and Panama, the governments seized local units of Stanford Bank.[26] Mexico's financial regulator announced on February 19 that it was investigating the local affiliate of Stanford bank for possible violation of banking laws.[26]

On February 27, 2009, Stanford official Laura Pendergest-Holt was arrested by Federal agents in connection with the alleged fraud.[27] On that day the SEC said that Stanford and his accomplices operated a "massive Ponzi scheme", misappropriated billions of dollars of investors' money and falsified the Stanford International Bank's records to hide their fraud. "Stanford International Bank's financial statements, including its investment income, are fictional," the SEC said.[5][28]

United States District Judge David Godbey froze all of the Stanford personal and corporate assets. Godbey gave them to Ralph Janvey, a Dallas receiver; Janvey will retain control until the SEC suit is resolved.[29] A British receiver took the Antigua-based Stanford International Bank.[30]

On July 1, 2009, James M. Davis, the CFO of the company, agreed to change course from his not guilty plea and plead guilty to three charges related to the Ponzi scheme fraud, once details can be worked out.

On November 13, 2009 The US District Court Ordered Brokerage Accounts to be transferred to Dominick & Dominick LLC. The transfer became effective on January 20, 2010.[31]

In 2011, an auction of Stanford's goods was held in Houston.[32]

On March 19, 2012 the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a federal judge’s ruling from last year that threw out three class action lawsuits that are trying to use state laws to recover investor losses resulting from Stanford’s scheme. The ruling allows lawsuits by investors who lost millions in Stanford Ponzi scheme to go forward against several 3rd parties. [33]


Stanford was headquartered in the Galleria Tower II in Uptown Houston, Texas, U.S.[34][35] Previously the company was headquartered in 5050 Westheimer Road,[36] a three story, 71,000 square feet (6,600 m2) building across from The Galleria. Jennifer Dawson of the Houston Business Journal described the facility as "high-end office digs."[37] By 2007 Stanford's headquarters moved to Galleria Tower II.[38]

On May 18, 2010 the receiver entered into a stalking horse contract for the sale of 5050 Westheimer Road.[39][40] During that month Black Forest Ventures LLC was the designated bidder to defeat at the auction, with a minimum bid being $12.5 million.[37] The auction was scheduled to be held on Thursday June 24, 2010 at the offices of Baker Botts, L.L.P. in One Shell Plaza in Downtown Houston.[40] The auction was canceled due to a lack of bids, and Black Forest's stipulated that it would acquire the building for $12.2 million.[37] Black Forest bought the 5050 Westheimer building in July 2010.[41]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "Stanford Financial charged with 'massive' fraud". Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  2. ^ "Contact Us > North America." Stanford Financial Group. Retrieved on February 18, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c Krauss, Clifford; Phillip L. Zweig & Julie Creswell (February 18, 2009). "U.S. Accuses Texas Financial Firm of $8 Billion Fraud". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  4. ^ See generally, Securities and Exchange Commission, Plaintiff v. Stanford International Bank Ltd., Stanford Group Company, Stanford Capital Management LLC, R. Allen Stanford, James M. Davis, Laura Pendergest-Holt, Defendants, case no. 3:09-cv-00298-L; U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas (Dallas).
  5. ^ a b c Driver, Anna (27 February 2009). "U.S. charges Stanford with massive Ponzi scheme".  
  6. ^ "Company history". Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  7. ^ a b c Hays, Kristen; Mary Flood (February 13, 2009). "Billionaire downplays scrutiny of Stanford Financial". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  8. ^ Kidd, Patrick (February 18, 2009). "Profile: Behind Allen Stanford's easy charm there is the glint of steel". London: Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  9. ^ Forsythe, Michael and Alison Fitzgerald.Stanford Prayer With Dying Man Pumped Agents in Alleged Fraud, Bloomberg, March 9, 2009.
  10. ^ Goldstein, Matthew. "Stanford's Failed Health Club". Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  11. ^ Financial Services Regulatory Commission, Antigua and Barbuda. News Archive. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
  12. ^ Stanford International Bank Limited Placed into Liquidation, BusinessWire, 16 April 2009. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
  13. ^ Antigua court wants to remove Vantis from Stanford liquidation, Accountancy Age, 11 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-11.
  14. ^ "ABOUT STANFORD TRUST COMPANY". Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  15. ^ Fitzgerald, Alison (February 12, 2009). "Billionaire Stanford’s Firm Said to Face U.S. Probe (Update1)". Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  16. ^ "Stanford bank in Antigua seized." BBC. February 21, 2009. Retrieved on July 27, 2009.
  17. ^ Stanford Name Removed from PGA Stop Yahoo Sports, March 20, 2009
  18. ^ a b "AHP and The Ultimate Gift Experience". Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  19. ^ "The Ultimate Gift".  
  20. ^ "Stanford Financial Group further expands profile in Golf as new title sponsor of LPGA Tour Championship". Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  21. ^ Robbins, Kevin (February 17, 2009). "Feds to Stanford: You’re OB". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  22. ^ "Feds Raid Stanford Financial Group Offices". WHBQ. February 17, 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  23. ^ Greenberg, Duncan (February 17, 2009). "Billionaire Stanford Charged With Fraud". Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  24. ^ Goldfarb, Zachary A. (February 17, 2009). "SEC Charges Stanford Financial in $8B Fraud". Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  25. ^ Fitzgerald, Alison (February 17, 2009). "Stanford International Bank Said to Bar Withdrawals Amid Probe". Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  26. ^ a b Ana Isabel Martinez and Jason Szep (February 19, 2009). "Stanford probe widens, Venezuela seizes bank". Reuters. 
  27. ^ Jagger, Suzy (February 27, 2009). "Top Stanford official Laura Pendergest-Holt charged with obstruction". The Times (London). Retrieved May 24, 2010. 
  28. ^ New SEC Complaint Says Stanford Ran Ponzi Scheme, Wall Street Journal, February 27, 2009
  29. ^ "Stanford criticizes receiver fees as ‘unbridled’." Bloomberg News at Houston Chronicle. June 5, 2009. Retrieved on June 22, 2009.
  30. ^ Sweeney, John. "Stanford drug informer role claim." BBC. Saturday May 9, 2009. Retrieved on June 22, 2009.
  31. ^ Stanford Financial Group Receivership
  32. ^ "Ex-financier Stanford's effects face Texas auction." Associated Press at the Houston Chronicle. June 2, 2011. Retrieved on June 3, 2011.
  33. ^ 
  34. ^ "Tower 2." Galleria Office Towers. Retrieved on February 22, 2009.
  35. ^ "Uptown District Map." Uptown Houston District. Retrieved on January 30, 2009.
  36. ^ "Contact." Stanford Financial Group. January 27, 2006. Retrieved on June 22, 2009.
  37. ^ a b c Dawson, Jennifer. "Scheduled Stanford auction scratched as no bids show for building." Houston Business Journal. Friday July 2, 2010. Retrieved on August 25, 2010.
  38. ^ "Contact." Stanford Financial Group. January 24, 2007. Retrieved on June 22, 2009.
  39. ^ "Notice of Public Auction for Sale of 5050 Westheimer, Houston, Texas." Stanford Financial Receivership. Retrieved on August 25, 2010.
  40. ^ a b "NOTICE OF PUBLIC AUCTION OF REAL PROPERTY IN HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS." Stanford Financial Receivership. Retrieved on August 25, 2010.
  41. ^ Dawson, Jennifer. "Black Forest Ventures buys W. Houston facility." Houston Business Journal. Monday August 23, 2010. Retrieved on August 25, 2010.

External links

  • Stanford Financial Group Receivership
  • Stanford Financial Group (Archive)
  • Stanford International Bank Ltd. (Archive)
  • Stanford Watch at Houston Chronicle
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