Leslie Turk

BR attorney: Stanford impact on south La. 'catastrophic'

by Leslie Turk

Phil Preis, the Baton Rouge attorney who represents Louisiana investors suing their financial advisers for funneling their money into Stanford International Bank’s so-called CDs, calls South Louisiana the national epicenter of Robert Allen Stanford’s alleged multibillion-dollar bank-investment fraud. Today’s Advocate reports that Preis estimates about 70 percent of the program’s U.S. dollars came from Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Covington and the surrounding areas.

“I’ve talked to a lot of the victims,” Preis told the paper. “It is catastrophic.”

Three years ago, after the death of her husband, 53-year-old Kimberly Scullin invested much of her family’s savings in the CDs, according to the story.

She said she and two sons lost “hundreds of thousands of dollars.” Her bitterness extends to her financial advisers as well as to Stanford.
“All … were licensed by the state,” Scullin noted. “They had to know something was wrong. They had to know.”

Read The Advocate story here.

If you or someone you know has lost money with Stanford, which is accused of running a massive Ponzi scheme, help is available through the Stanford Victims Coalition Web site. Dozens of members of the Louisiana Stanford Victims Group appeared at the state Capitol last Wednesday to testify in support of state Rep. Bodi White’s bill to increase the criminal penalties for financial fraud in Louisiana. White's bill, which moved out of committee with overwhelming support, creates a mandatory minumum five-year prison sentence for anyone convicted of racketeering involving securities. It would not, however, have an effect on possible charges in the Stanford case.

The state victims' group, affiliated with the national coalition, also has been working with U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s office to ask that CDs held within the U.S. be covered under the Securities Investor Protection Corporation. SIPC works to return customer cash, stock and other securities when brokerage firms close due to bankruptcy or fraud. The Stanford victims affirm in a petition that the “Stanford Group was an active SIPC member and the CDs were sold as SIPC insured.” Read the SIPC coverage petition here.