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Posted by: Matthew Goldstein on February 18
It didn’t take long for the investor lawsuits to start flying over the alleged massive fraud at Stanford Financial.
Only hours after the Securities and Exchange Commission charged R. Allen Stanford and two of his top deputies with civil fraud, a putative class action on behalf of Stanford customers was filed in federal court in Houston. The lawsuit names four initial plaintiffs, who say they invested a total of $1.75 million with the Houston-based firm that is now in the hands of a court-appointed receiver.
The lawsuit, captioned Jerry Adams v. Stanford Group Company, mirrors much of the same allegations raised in the SEC’s Feb. 17 enforcement action. Regulators charged the 58-year-old Stanford and his co-defendants with misleading investors about the security of high-yielding certificates of deposit sold by an offshore bank in Antigua that he controls. The SEC says it can’t account the approximate $8.5 billion Stanford’s bank took in from investors. Regulators also charged the defendants with taking in another $1 billion for another investment product that the firm touted with “fictitious’’ performance results.
The lead attorney on the investor suit is Houston lawyer Mike O’Brien, who also represents two former Stanford brokers, whose lawsuit last summer helped flag some of the alleged wrongdoing at the firm. O’Brien says he’s been talking to lots of other investors.
In the coming days and weeks, look for the investor lawsuits to multiply—just like what happened in wake of the Bernard Madoff $50 billion Ponzi scheme. Of course, it’s anyone’s guess just how much of the $9 billion that Stanford & Co. allegedly raised through fraudulent means can be retrieved.
BusinessWeek's Adrienne Carter, Jessica Silver-Greenberg, and David Henry deconstruct the mysteries of high finance, Wall Street, and hedge funds for pros and ordinary investors. E-mail them directly if you've got tips about big deals, a hedge fund, or even securities industry gossip.