Stanford case: Coins, gold released by court

By Patsy R. Brumfied/NEMS Daily Journal

U.S. District Court judges in two Texas cities have been busy signing orders related to fallen financier Allen Stanford, including the release of $21.2 million in coins and gold bullion seized 11 months ago by federal regulators.
Stanford’s gold customers whose assets were individually marked will regain the coins and gold confiscated when agents raided the company’s Houston headquarters to follow up on suspicions Stanford was running a $7 billion Ponzi scheme.
Judge David Godbey’s ruling in the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission’s fraud case against Stanford and company executives, former Chief Financial Officer James M. Davis and former Chief Investment Officer Laura Pendergest-Holt of Baldwyn, also allows the release to customers of unmarked gold that was paid for in full. He deferred ruling on the question of returning cash.
In February, the SEC accused Stanford, his companies, Davis and Holt of running a Ponzi scheme relating to certificates of deposit sold by Antigua-based Stanford International Bank Ltd. His and their corporate and personal assets were frozen. Stanford and Holt deny all wrongdoing, although Davis pleaded guilty to criminal charges last August.
In other federal action this week:
n Stanford’s attorneys appealed to the 5th Circuit to have him released on bond from jail. He’s been in custody since June, and recently a defense psychiatrist said Stanford was close to a mental breakdown.
n Godbey in Dallas ordered a halt to information-sharing by both sides in the civil case until the criminal case is resolved. Trial is set for January 2011.
n Godbey also ordered Stanford’s daughter, Randi, to a Jan. 28 hearing to show why she should not be held in contempt for not vacating her Houston luxury condo, which the court-ordered receiver claims is part of her father’s assets.
Stanford Financial Group had an office in Tupelo and investigators say many Mississippians were among the CD investors who lost their life savings and retirement funds when the financial empire collapsed last spring.

Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.