UPDATE: U.S. senators, reps ask Clinton to help Stanford victims

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A letter from 16 members of Congress, including U.S. Rep. Travis Childers of Booneville, to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asks her to use her powers to help victims of the Stanford financial scandal.

The letter, dated Oct. 20, urges Clinton to refer the thousands of claims, totaling billions of dollars, to the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission.

“A referral to the FCSC will provide a forum for victims of the Stanford Ponzi scheme to obtain compensation for the massive financial losses they have suffered,” they ask.

They also note these losses include property they say was improperly seized by the Commonwealth of Antigua and Barbuda, headquarters for Stanford International Bank Ltd., which issued certificates of deposit now virtually worthless after the collapse of Stanford Financial Group in February.

That’s when SFG was accused by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission of masterminding a Ponzi scheme.

Stanford’s CEO R. Allen Stanford, Chief Investment Officer Laura Pendergest-Holt of Baldwyn, two other top executives and an Antiguan regulator are accused in the scheme. They have pleaded not guilty and await trial.

The company’s Chief Financial Officer, James M. Davis of Baldwyn, pleaded guilty to the federal charges in late August and is expected to be the government’s key witness at trial.

Childers is the only Mississippi member of Congress to sign the letter. Among the others are Sens. Mary Landrieu and David Vitter, and Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. of Louisiana.

“Referral of the victims’ claims to the FCSC would provide a venue for the recovery of money that appears to have been misappropriated by the government of Antigua,” their letter also states.

The FCSC has jurisdiction over claims between the U.S. and foreign governments arising from differences related to property taking.

The letter-writers also ask Clinton, if necessary, to negotiate a settlement with Antigua.

For more details, read Thursday’s Daily Journal.

Patsy Brumfield/Daily Journal