In the complaint, the S.E.C. called “improbable, if not impossible” claims by the offshore bank that it paid “significantly” higher returns on its CDs because of the high quality of its investments.
The S.E.C. accused the bank and its affiliates of falsely stating in marketing materials that client funds were placed in liquid financial instruments, when in fact they were invested in private equity funds and real estate. On Nov. 28, Stanford International Bank quoted a rate of 5.375 percent on a $100,000 three-year CD, compared with rates of less than 3.2 percent at American banks. The bank recently has offered rates of more than 10 percent on five-year CDs, the filing stated.
- Read the Complaint
- Read the Legal Memorandum
In the complaint, the S.E.C. requested that the defendants’ assets be frozen and that a receiver be appointed to take control of business operations. It also requested that the assets of the bank and other offshore units be repatriated. And the agency asked that Mr. Stanford and the other named executives be required to surrender their passports.
The S.E.C. has come under fire in Congress and the media for ignoring repeated warnings over a period of years about the Bernard L. Madoff, who is accused of running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme. While investigators have been looking at Mr. Stanford and his financial empire’s activities for many months, the scrutiny into the too-good-to-be-true returns on the CDs increased substantially after the Madoff case.
Oddly enough, even the Stanford operation was touched by Mr. Madoff. Despite the fact the Antigua-bank assured investors in a report in December 2008 that it had no “direct or indirect” exposure Mr. Madoff’s funds, the bank suffered an estimated $400,000 in losses, apparently through investments in so-called “feeder funds.”
Additionally, the S.E.C. accused Stanford Capital Management, another Houston-based investment advisory unit, of inflating the performance of its $1.2 billion-asset Stanford Allocation Strategy mutual fund in promoting it to prospective investors.
The complaint also accused the offshore banking unit and the Houston-based broker dealer of violating provisions of the Investment Company Act of 1940 in failing to register as an investment company.