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Ponzi scheme

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Andrew Madoff, Bernard Madoff’s last surviving son, was under investigation for possible involvement in his father’s multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme until the day he died from cancer earlier this month.

Andrew Madoff had long maintained that he and his brother, Mark, who hanged himself in 2010, knew nothing of the massive fraud.

Andrew Madoff was under investigation for possible involvement in his father's Ponzi scheme until the day he died

Andrew Madoff was under investigation for possible involvement in his father’s Ponzi scheme until the day he died (photo The New York Times)

However, two federal law enforcement officials said investigators never believed the brothers were unaware of the fraud and both were under investigation until their deaths. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case.

Andrew Madoff left behind a $16 million estate. A court-appointed trustee is taking aim at that the sons’ money, filing a lawsuit this summer accusing them of using money from their father’s scheme as their “personal cookie jar”.

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Tycoon Allen Stanford has been sentenced to 110 years in jail for operating a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors of more than $7 billion.

The scheme was described as one of the largest in US history.

In court, Allen Stanford denied any guilt, telling the judge at his sentencing hearing: “I did not defraud anybody.”

Allen Stanford, a Texan banker, rose to prominence outside the US when he bankrolled international cricket competitions in the UK and Caribbean.

But after the collapse of his agreement to stage Twenty20 cricket in England, his financial empire began to crumble amid investigations by US regulators.

Forbes Magazine listed him as the 605th richest man in the world in 2006.

Allen Stanford has been sentenced to 110 years in jail for operating a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors of more than $7 billion

Allen Stanford has been sentenced to 110 years in jail for operating a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors of more than $7 billion

However, since his arrest in 2009 he has spent three years in detention after being denied bail.

Allen Stanford’s Ponzi scheme centred on his banking operation based in the Caribbean island nation of Antigua.

Some 30,000 individual investors were swindled, it was alleged. Prosecutors failed to find as much as 92% of the assets Stanford International Bank claimed to have.

In his statement in court on Thursday, which ran for some 40 minutes, he told the judge: “I’m not here to ask for sympathy or forgiveness or to throw myself at your mercy.

“I did not run a Ponzi scheme. I didn’t defraud anybody.”

US District Judge David Hittner, who presided over Allen Stanford’s trial, called his actions “egregious criminal frauds” during the hearing.

Two victims of the scheme spoke during the hearing, including Angela Shaw, who told the court Stanford was worse than convicted Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff because he preyed on middle-class investors.

“He stole more than millions,” Angela Shaw said.

“He stole our lives as we knew them.”

His sentence is 40 years shorter than the jail term handed down to Bernard Madoff, who pleaded guilty in 2009 to a Ponzi scheme targeting wealthy investors.

Allen Stanford was convicted in March on 13 of 14 charges against him, despite his lawyers attempting to shift most of the blame on his chief financial officer.

Prosecutors had asked for a 230-year sentence, with defense lawyers arguing for a lenient term of 44 months.

Three other former executives at Allen Stanford’s company are awaiting trial, while a former Antiguan financial regulator is expected to be extradited to the US for related charges.

While a jury has cleared the way for access to about $330 million in stolen funds sitting in Allen Stanford’s frozen bank accounts across Canada, England and Switzerland, legal wrangling could make it years before investors recover any of that money.

 

Cricket tycoon Allen Stanford has been found guilty by a court in Houston, Texas, of running a $7 billion Ponzi scheme.

Allen Stanford, 61, was convicted on 13 of the 14 charges.

He had pleaded not guilty to defrauding some 30,000 investors with bogus investments through his Stanford International Bank in Antigua to fund a lavish lifestyle.

Allen Stanford faces a sentence of up to 20 years in prison for the most serious charge.

However, the judge will have to decide whether the sentences should run consecutively.

The jury of eight men and four women found Allen Stanford not guilty of one charge of wire fraud.

Allen Stanford looked down as the guilty verdicts were announced, and one of his daughters started crying.

Cricket tycoon Allen Stanford has been found guilty by a court in Houston, Texas, of running a $7 billion Ponzi scheme

Cricket tycoon Allen Stanford has been found guilty by a court in Houston, Texas, of running a $7 billion Ponzi scheme

 

The same jury will now deliberate in a brief civil trial as prosecutors seek to seize funds from more than 30 of Allen Stanford’s bank accounts worldwide.

However, investigators say they have been unable to find 92% of the $8 billion the bank said it had in assets.

One of Allen Stanford’s lawyers, Ali Fazel, told Associated Press he was “disappointed in the outcome”, adding: “We expect to appeal.”

Allen Stanford’s defense was based on blaming a former chief financial officer, James Davis, and arguing that most of the money was lost by court-appointed receivers following the bank’s seizure.

Prosecutors said Allen Stanford’s bogus certificates of deposit had promised artificially high returns to fund his lavish lifestyle over a 20-year period.

They said Allen Stanford had told depositors in more than 100 countries that their money was safely invested in stocks and securities. However, it was in reality being transferred to his businesses and personal account.

James Davis, who had earlier pleaded guilty to fraud as part of a deal with prosecutors, testified that he had worked with Allen Stanford to falsify records.

Allen Stanford did not take the stand during the six-week trial.

Allen Stanford was the organizer of the money-spinning Stanford Twenty20 cricket tournament in the West Indies in 2008.

Forbes Magazine listed Allen Stanford as the 605th richest man in the world in 2006.

He has spent three years in detention after being denied bail.

Allen Stanford’s trial was delayed after he was involved in a prison fight in September 2009 and developed an addiction to an anti-anxiety drug. But in December 2011 he was declared fit to stand trial.

 

Full Tilt Poker and its operators built a global Ponzi scheme that bilked online players out of at least $390 million, said federal prosecutors who filed a civil lawsuit against the internet gambling site.

According to U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, besides defrauding the U.S. banking system, as alleged in a civil lawsuit last spring, Full Tilt Poker was “not a legitimate poker company.”

Instead, Full Tilt Poker “cheated and abused its own players”, as insiders “lined their own pockets with funds picked from the pockets of their most loyal customers while blithely lying to both players and the public alike about the safety and security of the money deposited with the company.”

Full Tilt Poker built a global Ponzi scheme that bilked online players out of at least $390 million, said federal prosecutors

Full Tilt Poker built a global Ponzi scheme that bilked online players out of at least $390 million, said federal prosecutors

The lawsuit said that Full Tilt Poker owed its U.S. customers a total of $150 million as of the end of March.

Poker players around US said they were stunned by the latest accusations.

“If true, these allegations detail a massive betrayal of player trust, which will cause financial hardship for thousands, if not millions, of individual poker players, none of whom are accused of doing anything wrong,” John Pappas, executive director of advocacy group Poker Players Alliance, said in a statement.

Until now, defense lawyers declined to comment.

Since April 2007, Full Tilt Poker distributed nearly $444 million to owners and directors, with much of it going into overseas accounts, according to the new claims in the civil suit that accuses it of money laundering.

The amended civil suit is part of a filing that seeks to recover $3 billion from Full Tilt Poker; two other sites, PokerStars and Absolute Poker; 21 related firms and four individuals: Full Tilt Poker Chief Executive Raymond Bitar and board members and poker stars Howard Lederer, Christopher “Jesus” Ferguson and Rafael Furst.

The sites were shut down April 15, a day many players now refer to as Black Friday, in an FBI raid. Also, a grand jury indicted Bitar and 10 other executives and third-party payment processors for the three sites on charges of bank fraud, money laundering and gambling law violations.

The crackdown sent shudders through the poker community and sent online players scrambling for solace in bricks-and-mortar casinos. Some U.S. high rollers who made a living playing on the Internet packed up and moved abroad.

PokerStars returned money to U.S. players in the wake of the federal actions last spring. Absolute Poker agreed to refund what it owed. But Full Tilt Poker, with only $60 million in its coffers, didn’t have enough funds to pay back players, prosecutors said.

Full Tilt Poker also was plagued by a U.S. payment processing network that was disrupted last year, preventing the company from pulling money from customers’ bank accounts to fund online gambling credits.

Instead of disclosing the problem, prosecutors said, Full Tilt Poker maintained a false image of financial stability by crediting players’ accounts with $130 million in “phantom funds.” When players gambled with these funds and lost to other players, a “massive shortfall” developed, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors are seeking refunds of $42 million from Lederer, $41 million from Bitar, $25 million from Ferguson and $12 million from Furst and said they also may seek additional money laundering penalties.

A federal court has allowed prosecutors to seize five accounts associated with the men, but three of the accounts are based abroad.

The fraud was made possible, prosecutors said, because Full Tilt was based overseas.

In July, regulators on the British Channel island of Alderney, where Full Tilt was licensed, suspended Full Tilt’s international operations.

Debi O’Neill, 53, from Georgia, an administrator for online poker forum CardsChat, recouped all of the $7,500 she had kept at PokerStars. But she still has $2,000 trapped in Full Tilt.

“I don’t really expect to ever see any of it again,” she said.

“I feel like they stole it from me. I trusted them, deposited money there in good faith.”

Without the Full Tilt Poker funds to reinvest in other poker sites, Debi O’Neill said, she has lost a part-time livelihood. She now relies on gambling trips to Las Vegas and her husband’s salary from a poultry company.

“I can’t play the kind of volume I used to,” she said. “It’s life-changing for me.”