Allen Stanford, the Texan billionaire and cricket entrepreneur, has been indicted on fraud, obstruction and conspiracy charges, the US justice department said on Friday. A federal judge in Virginia said the charges related to a US$7bn scheme to swindle investors involved with his Antigua bank.
Stanford, 59, had turned himself in to US authorities on Thursday after a warrant was issued for his arrest.
He could face upto 250 years in prison if found guilty on all of the charges, assistant attorney-general Lanny Breuer told reporters in Washington. Three other Stanford Group executives and Leroy King, the former chief of Antigua's financial services regulatory commission, were also charged in the indictment.
"Stanford and his co-defendants engaged in a scheme to defraud investors who purchased approximately $7 billion in certificates of deposit, CDs, administered by Stanford International Bank Ltd.," Breuer said. "Stanford and his co-defendants allegedly misused and misappropriated most of those investment assets, including diverting at least $1.6 billion into undisclosed personal loans to Stanford himself."
Breuer listed the charges in the 50-page indictment as: "Seven counts of wire fraud, 10 counts of mail fraud, conspiracy to obstruct an investigation for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), obstruction of an investigation by the SEC and conspiracy to commit money laundering."
A few hours after the charges were announced Stanford appeared in a federal court in Richmond, Virginia, and is expected to be transferred to Houston to be tried before a grand jury.
In a written statement, his lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, said Stanford "is confident that a fair jury will find him not guilty of any criminal wrongdoing."
Stanford already faces civil charges brought by the US SEC, who accused him of "a fraud of shocking magnitude".