Allen Stanford, the fallen Texan billionaire and one time king of cricket, has been sentenced to 110 years in jail for defrauding investors of $7bn. He was also ordered to pay back $5.9bn – a symbolic gesture as the fraudster is now penniless.
The Texan tycoon's bizarre and lengthy trial came to its conclusion in Houston after both Stanford and victims had addressed the court.
Showing no contrition, Stanford, 62 and dressed in green prison fatigues, told the court: 'If I live the rest of my life in prison, I will always be at peace with the way I conducted myself in business'.
He accused the prosecution of 'Gestapo' tactics and said they had ruined a legitimate business. 'I'm not a thief', he said. 'I never defrauded anyone'.
In court one of his victims, Angela Shaw, told the judge: 'Allen Stanford has stolen more than billions of dollars. He took our lives as we knew them'. She said some 28,000 people had lost money in the scam. Shaw asked for other victims in the court to stand and half the gallery rose to their feet, according to court reports.
Prosecutors said Stanford had treated his victims like 'roadkill'. They had asked for a prison sentence spanning more than two centuries, calling him a "ruthless predator" who stole from investors 'simply to satisfy his own greed and vanity'.
After a jury convicted Stanford in March on 13 of 14 fraud-related counts, prosecutors called on US district judge David Hittner to sentence Stanford to 230 years in prison, the maximum sentence for all his convictions.
Stanford has been in jail since his arrest in June 2009 and his lawyers asked for a maximum of 44 months, a sentence he could complete within about eight months because of the time he has already served. The trial was delayed after Stanford's defence team claimed their client had lost his memory following a vicious prison beating following a dispute over a telephone call.
The 6ft 4in Texan was arrested three years ago after the police tracked him down to a modest townhouse in Fredericksburg, Virginia, owned by one of his girlfriends.
After it became clear his business empire was on the point of collapse, Stanford had been attempting to flee to Antigua. The Caribbean island was his second home. He was known as Sir Allen there and was one of the largest landowners with business interests including the local cricket ground, newspapers and restaurants. He had spent much of his time there on his 112ft motor yacht, Sea Eagle Bikini.
Abandoned by his mother as a child, Stanford had grown up poor in the tiny town of Mexia, Texas. After an early career in gyms failed to pan out he moved into finance, eventually building Stanford International Bank into a global investment firm with offices from Caracas to Zurich.
The money bought him power and influence. He was said to be close to the Bush family. In Washington, he and his executives gave over $1.8m to Democrat and Republican politicians. President Barack Obama received $4,600 for his 2008 election campaign.
It also allowed him to buy his way into the heart of the cricket establishment. Stanford developed a love of the game in Antigua. In 2008 the august England and Wales Cricket Board signed a five-year deal with him for a series of matches between England and an all-star West Indies team.
The billionaire announced the deal in typically flamboyant style, arriving at Lord's cricket ground in a black helicopter and posing for photographs with a perspex case containing $20m in cash.
But according to the prosecution all this wealth belonged to someone else. Stanford's lavish lifestyle was financed by investors who bought certificates of deposit, or CDs, from his bank. But instead of investing the cash, he spent it.
One unanswered mystery is how he got away with it for so long. US diplomats had warned government officials not to be seen or photographed with Stanford three years before his arrest.
'Embassy officers do not reach out to Stanford because of the allegations of bribery and money-laundering. The ambassador managed to stay out of any one-on-one photos with Stanford during the breakfast', a government official wrote in a cable obtained by Wikileaks.
White collar crime expert attorney Andrew Stoltmann said it was a fair sentence and in line with the 150 years that Bernard Madoff received for his massive Ponzi scheme. 'There is no doubt he is a crook. But this case leaves a lot of people with egg on their faces. The regulators should have spotted this guy years ago and they didn't do anything until they came under pressure after Madoff'.
Stoltmann said far larger amounts of money had been lost by Wall Street bankers but that no one had prosecuted them. 'They went after the fly in the ointment', he said.
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