Businessman Allen Stanford sentenced to 110 years in prison for $7bn Ponzi scheme
ALLEN Stanford, the Texan financier, has been sentenced to 110 years in prison for orchestrating a $7bn (€5.5bn) Ponzi scheme.
District Judge David Hittner handed the sentence to the 62-year old in a Houston court on Thursday after hearing more than two hours of arguments from government prosectuors and lawyers for Stanford.
US authorities had sought a 230 year sentence for a man they described as "a ruthless predator responsible for one of the most egregious frauds in history." Stanford used the hearing to argue that "Stanford was a real brick-and-mortar global financial empire," that only crumbled after the government accused the company of being a Ponzi scheme in 2009.
The sentence leaves Stanford facing the rest of his life behind bars and caps a startling fall from grace for a man who was judged to be worth more than $2bn in 2008.
At his trial, prosecutors alleged that Stanford had constructed an elaborate fraud that promised investors handsome returns if they purchased certificates from his Stanford International Bank based on the Carribbean island of Antigua.
Instead of putting the money in the safe assets investors were promised, a jury found the former billionaire guilty of using it to pay for an opulent lifestyle of yachts and private jets.
The demise of the flamboyant Texan has been a source of acute discomfort at the English Cricket Board's headquarters at Lord's, where Stanford landed in a helicopter in the summer of 2008 to promote a game between the West Indies Stanford Superstars and the England team.
That embarrassment was magnified in Antigua, where the former billionaire became the first American to be given a knighthood by the island in 2006. He was later stripped of the honour.
Attempts to prosecute Stanford were delayed in 2009 when the fraudster was attacked and badly injured at a detention facility in Texas. On Thursday, his lawyers had asked that he served a three to four year sentence.
The 110 years he did get is the largest for a fraudster in America since Bernie Madoff was given 150 years in 2009.