He treated his victims as “roadkill,’’ according to prosecutors, and now R. Allen Stanford, the Texas financier who masterminded a $7 billion global Ponzi scheme, will spend the next 110 years in prison.
The sentence came in a Houston courtroom, three months after Stanford was convicted of 13 counts of fraud for a two-decade scheme in which he sold fraudulent certificates of deposit to 30,000 investors in 113 countries.
His ill-gotten gains financed a glamorous lifestyle in the United States and in Antigua, where he had based his Stanford International Bank. The New York Times reports he once claimed a net worth of $2 billion, had a collection of yachts, a fleet of jets, was awarded a knighthood by Antigua and owned a professional cricket team and stadium in that country.
Today, the once-swaggering Stanford is a shadow of his former self. Before sentencing – prosecutors had asked for 230 years – he tearfully told the court: “ I am not up here to ask for sympathy or forgiveness. I’m up here to tell you from my heart I didn’t run a Ponzi scheme.” He blamed the government for his ruin, saying he could have paid off depositors.
Prosecutors called his version of events “obscene.” His victims were mainly middle-class investors who could not afford the losses. Many have since given up their homes or been forced out of retirement and back into the workforce.
New details are emerging on the lavish lifestyle of Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, the son of the president of Equatorial Guinea, who managed to spend $300 million in a decade-long spending spree on four continents.
What is so remarkable is that he did so while on the payroll as a modest government employee with an income that barely broke six-figures.
In an amended complaint, the United States laid out its evidence of alleged corruption by Teodoro, also known as Teodorin, as part of its efforts to seize his U.S. assets. They include a Gulfstream jet, Malibu mansion and Michael Jackson memorabilia, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Those toys were just the tip of the iceberg for Teodorin. In 2008 alone, he decided to collect art, snapping up a Degas ($4.5 million), Renoir ($6.4 million), Gauguin ($8.9 million) and a Matisse ($8.9 million). Then there were the requisite cars: several Bentleys and Rolls Royces, two Bugattis, Ferraris, and high-end Mercedes and Peugeots. He was like a vacuum sweeper at the auction of Yves Saint Laurent’s estate, buying 109 items for $22 million.
Year after year, the purchases continued. All this from a country best known for its corruption and widespread poverty.
Jordan is not known for going after its senior officials when they are suspected of corruption. But King Abdullah, following the Arab spring street protests, launched an anti-corruption campaign that has now ensnared the country’s former spy chief.
Former General Muhammad al-Dahabi, who once headed the General Intelligence Department, has pleaded not guilty to a number of fraud charges, including embezzlement, money laundering and abuse of a public post for personal gain.
Dahabi was once one of the country’s most feared officials, Reuters reports, adding that this is the first high-profile case in the country’s new anti-corruption crackdown.
The trial, open and public, is seen as unprecedented in a country where most such matters are traditionally decided behind the closed doors of military or special courts.
Dahabi is charged with having amassed $40 million while in office. Much of it came from businessmen seeking to win government contracts, and some of it ended up in foreign currency accounts at local banks and paying for the former general’s palatial mansion. His supporters, however, say that Dahabi is being made a political scapegoat.