Ben Woodhead Deputy editor - digital

Ben Woodhead is deputy editor - digital at the Financial Review Group. He writes on business, technology, politics and the economy and can be found on BRW, The Australian Financial Review and Smart Investor.

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Former billionaire gets 110 years for $7bn Ponzi scheme

Published 15 June 2012 03:58, Updated 18 June 2012 08:08

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Former billionaire gets 110 years for $7bn Ponzi scheme

Disgraced billionaire Allen Stanford, who maintains he ran a legitimate investment business, was sentenced to over 100 years in prison over a massive Ponzi scheme. Three other former executives of Stanford International Bank are awaiting trial. Photo: Reuters

One-time Texas billionaire Allen Stanford has been sentenced to more than 100 years in prison over a $US7 billion Ponzi scheme.

The 110-year sentence sentencing follows Stanford’s conviction in March of 13 felony counts of fraud, conspiracy and obstruction of justice by a Texas jury. Prosecutors had asked for a 230-year prison term while Stanford’s lawyers had pressed for a three-year sentence.

Stanford’s 110-year sentence puts him in a similar league to notorious fraudster Bernard Maddoff, who was given 150 years in prison in 2009 over a massive Ponzi scheme that defrauded a number of celebrities and wealthy investors.

As he handed down Stanford’s sentence, US District Judge David Hittner described the former billionaire’s actions, which involved using fraudulent certificates of deposit issued by an bank in the Caribbean nation of Antigua to rip off thousands of investors, as “egregious criminal frauds”.

Unlike Madoff, who pleaded guilty, Stanford (62) continues to deny defrauding his investors and has accused the US government of destroying his business. “They destroyed it and turned it to nothing,” Stanford said ahead of his sentencing. “Stanford was a real brick-and-mortar global financial empire.”

In a 40 minute statement to the sentencing judge, Stanford also said he was not seeking forgiveness from the court.

“I’m not here to ask for sympathy or forgiveness or to throw myself at your mercy,” he said. “I did not run a Ponzi scheme. I didn’t defraud anybody.”

In 2006 Forbes listed Stanford as the 605th richest man in the world. The Texas-based banker came to international attention when he attempted to stage Twenty20 cricket competitions in the UK and Caribbean without success.

Three other former executives of Stanford’s business, Stanford International Bank, are awaiting trial.