Texas tycoon and cricket mogul Allen Stanford was today found guilty of running a $42.5 billion (US$7 billion) international pyramid scheme at a court in Houston, Texas.
The jury, which comprised of eight men and four women, heard five weeks of evidence and had announced yesterday that it was “unable to reach a verdict on each of the 14 counts.”
However, U.S. District Judge David Hittner insisted that lawyers were unlikely to put together a better case and, after the length of time and expense, it was the duty of the jurors to come to a decision once it could be done without surrendering their “conscientious opinion.”
In the end, it was not good news for Stanford who was convicted of 13 from 14 counts of fraud. Each count carries a maximum penalty of up to 20 years although no date has yet been set for sentencing.
Stanford, 61, defrauded 30,000 investors worldwide with bogus certificates of deposit that promised artificially high returns while he used the money to fund an extravagant lifestyle for over 20 years. In 2006, Forbes Magazine listed him as the 605th richest man in the world.
He would be forever synonymous with the Caribbean, though.
Stanford, who once owned a gym in Texas, was knighted in his adapted homeland in Antigua and was prominent for his lavish dalliance with West Indies cricket.
In 2006, he launched the Stanford Twenty20 competition that involved 17 Caribbean nations and had a $6 million (US$1 million) first prize. Participants got a $608,000 (US$100,000) appearance fee plus $60,800 (US$10,000) per month to prepare their squads.
Guyana beat Trinidad and Tobago in the inaugural competition off a Narsingh Deonarine six from the penultimate ball of the match. However, the local cricketers rebounded to win the competition, two years later, against Jamaica.
In late 2007, Stanford signed a five-year deal with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) that was meant to catapult the regional cricket team back to the top of the world rankings.
But on 17 February 2009—just months after Trinidad and Tobago’s lucrative Twenty20 triumph—the US Securities and Exchange Commission charged the Texan with fraud and multiple violations of US Securities laws.
Stanford will know the full cost of his transgressions soon when he is sentenced in Houston.