The investigation into Texas tycoon Allen Stanford and his alleged $8 billion ponzi scheme has broadened, CNBC has learned.
According to multiple sources, criminal authorities are investigating whether Stanford and his people were actively hiding information from the Securities and Exchange Commission, possibly for years. This in addition to looking into allegations of fraud.
In an interview in April, Stanford flatly denied any wrongdoing. He still has not been charged with any criminal violations, nearly four months after the SEC filed suit.
The SEC didn't lower the boom on Stanford until February, but it had been investigating him since 2005, and had been getting inquiries as far back as 2001.
So what took so long?
The criminal case being developed by prosecutors could shed some light on that. The Department of Justice tipped its hand a bit last month with the indictment of Stanford's chief investment officer, Laura Pendergest-Holt.
Prosecutors say she conspired with Stanford and Former Chief Financial Officer James Davis early this year to hide information from the SEC. She has pleaded not guilty, and Davis is cooperating with authorities.
But CNBC sources say prosecutors are looking at a possible pattern of hiding information from the SEC. And while there are still questions about the SEC's handling of the case, if the company was hiding things, that may help explain what's taken so long.
According to court documents and multiple sources, the SEC ultimately turned to the Justice Department for help last year, and the FBI launched its own investigation last June.
At that point, the Justice Department took the lead in the case, but the SEC was still questioning witnesses ... even issuing at least one subpoena. All the while, people were still investing money with Stanford — not knowing the firm was under investigation. And that is infuriating to the group representing Stanford's 28,000 alleged victims.
The Stanford victims coalition says in a statement today said "We look forward to hearing the DOJ's explanation of how and why the life savings of thousands of innocent people were sacrificed for an investigation that still has not resulted in the arrest of Allen Stanford."
The statement says the least the SEC could have done was disclose the complaints it had received, so investors could have made an informed decision.
Neither the SEC nor the Justice Department is commenting on any of this, and Stanford's criminal attorney, Dick Deguerin, has not yet responded to CNBC e-mails.