Two Tupeloans to speak at Stanford investors' hearing

STANFORD HEARING
- Monday, 1-2:30 p.m.
- Jackson
- State Capitol, Room 113
- Open to public

TUPELO – Add Al Pleasants’ name to the list of people who say they lost their entire savings in the collapse of the Stanford financial empire.
Pleasants, 61, of Tupelo runs an appraisal business and will be among a half-dozen or so who speak at Monday’s public hearing in Jackson about their experience with Stanford International Bank Ltd. investments and how they lost funds.
The hearing is set to begin at 1 p.m. in Room 113 of the State Capitol downtown. It’s hosted by the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office.
“I’ve lost all of my 34 years of life savings,” he said. Pleasants declined to say how much money it was, but he’s expected to reveal the amount at the hearing.
Tupeloan Walt Walton also is on the hearing agenda of people who call themselves Stanford victims.
Walton, 74, lost all his retirement savings – about $430,000 – in the Stanford crash described as a $7.2 billion Ponzi scheme by federal investigators. He’s sued his local financial adviser to try to recover his loss.
Stanford CEO Allen Stanford and four former colleagues, two who hail from Baldwyn, and an Antiguan regulator, face criminal charges in the scandal. Stanford had a Tupelo office, which closed in February after accusations of illegality from the U.S. Securities amp& Exchange Commission and a court-ordered freeze on corporate and executives’ personal assets.
Pleasants says he bought into Stanford certificates of deposit on recommendation of his financial adviser, whose name he declined to reveal.
“I was told they were safe and backed by Allen Stanford’s billions,” he said.
“People have committed suicide, can’t pay their bills, lost their homes, become ill from stress and the list goes on,” Pleasants noted. “And like me, most are too old to start over.
“We truly have been violated.”
Friday, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the largest independent securities regulator in the U.S., was criticized for major mistakes that failed to uncover the frauds by Stanford and New York financier Bernard Madoff, now convicted and in prison.
The report, released by a special FINRA committee Friday, found several missed warning signs by FINRA examiners, a lack of communication between FINRA and the SEC as well as FINRA’s inability to oversee investment advisers as major causes of the failure to detect the schemes. The result: Madoff was able to successfully hide his multi-billion Ponzi scheme from FINRA; and, in the Stanford case, the regulator ignored credible tip-offs.
In the Stanford case, the report revealed that FINRA predecessor, the NASD, received credible tips from at least five different sources between 2003 and 2005 that the certificates of deposit sold by Allen Stanford were fraudulent.
In addition, the committee found that FINRA doesn’t have a centralized database that allows examiners to see all the red flags raised about a particular firm. Therefore, no single staff member was aware of all of the suspicions about Stanford that had been communicated to FINRA.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.

Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal