Allen Stanford jailed for 110 years for $7bn Ponzi

image captionAllen Stanford had blamed a former chief financial officer

Disgraced tycoon Allen Stanford has been sentenced to 110 years in jail for operating a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors of more than $7bn (£4.5bn).

The scheme was described as one of the largest in US history.

In court, Stanford denied any guilt, telling the judge at his sentencing hearing: "I did not defraud anybody."

A Texan banker, Stanford rose to prominence outside the US when he bankrolled international cricket competitions in the UK and Caribbean.

But after the collapse of his agreement to stage Twenty20 cricket in England, his financial empire began to crumble amid investigations by US regulators.

Forbes Magazine listed him as the 605th richest man in the world in 2006.

However, since his arrest in 2009 he has spent three years in detention after being denied bail.

Shifting blame

Stanford's Ponzi scheme centred on his banking operation based in the Caribbean island nation of Antigua.

Some 30,000 individual investors were swindled, it was alleged. Prosecutors failed to find as much as 92% of the assets Stanford International Bank claimed to have.

In his statement in court on Thursday, which ran for some 40 minutes, he told the judge: "I'm not here to ask for sympathy or forgiveness or to throw myself at your mercy.

"I did not run a Ponzi scheme. I didn't defraud anybody."

US District Judge David Hittner, who presided over Stanford's trial, called Stanford's actions "egregious criminal frauds" during the hearing.

Two victims of the scheme spoke during the hearing, including Angela Shaw, who told the court Stanford was worse than convicted Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff because he preyed on middle-class investors.

"He stole more than millions," Ms Shaw said. "He stole our lives as we knew them."

His sentence is 40 years shorter than the jail term handed down to Madoff, who pleaded guilty in 2009 to a Ponzi scheme targeting wealthy investors.

Stanford was convicted in March on 13 of 14 charges against him, despite his lawyers attempting to shift most of the blame on his chief financial officer.

Prosecutors had asked for a 230-year sentence, with defence lawyers arguing for a lenient term of 44 months.

Three other former executives at Stanford's company are awaiting trial, while a former Antiguan financial regulator is expected to be extradited to the US for related charges.

While a jury has cleared the way for access to about $330m in stolen funds sitting in Stanford's frozen bank accounts across Canada, England and Switzerland, legal wrangling could make it years before investors recover any of that money.

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