Leslie Turk

Stanford's 'massive fraud' may hit close to home

by Leslie Turk

The federal probe into Antigua-based Stanford International Bank, accused by the SEC  of massive fraud for selling about $8 billion of so-called CDs to investors by promising "improbable and unsubstantiated high interest rates," may hit close to home.

The SEC raided Texas billionaire R. Allen Stanford's offices Tuesday and froze the assets of three companies he controls. One of those companies is Houston-based Stanford Group, which has a long-established office in Baton Rouge and in more recent years expanded to Lafayette. A phone call to the Stanford Group Co. office in River Ranch went to a recording this morning, and The Advocate reported today that Baton Rouge execs did not return its calls yesterday.

By early afternoon Tuesday, Stanford customers were riding elevators to the top floor of the City Plaza office building in downtown Baton Rouge. There, silence and locked doors greeted them at the green-marbled floor and cherry wood-gabled foyer of the Stanford Group Co. and Stanford Trust Co. offices. Several women who said they’d come to inquire about funds had been unable to reach anyone by phone at the Baton Rouge office. Neither they nor a man who said he feared he’d been “cleaned out” wanted to talk about the company on the record. But the man told his wife, who waited curbside at City Plaza, “It’s locked up tighter than Dick’s hat box.” Later, some employees slipped out of the Stanford offices, but gave conflicting reports about whether company executives were at work.

Read the rest of The Advocate story here.