Five years in prison for Stanford Ponzi scheme star witness

The chief financial officer for a $7 billion Ponzi scheme was sentenced to five years in prison Tuesday after acting as the US government’s star witness against Allen Stanford, architect of the massive fraud operation.

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Stanford rose to international fame, in part by using his ill-gotten wealth to become cricket mogul. He was sentenced to 110 years in prison last year for defrauding some 30,000 investors from more than 100 countries, whose investments were fraudulently managed by Stanford International Bank.

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CFO James Davis pleaded guilty a few months after the bank was raided and criminal charges were laid against its officers.

Stanford’s defense attorneys during his trial had tried to shift the blame to Davis, accusing him of perpetrating the entire fraud, while Stanford naively placed his trust in his former college roommate and longtime friend.

They also insisted the bulk of investor money was lost due to mismanagement by court-appointed receivers after the US government seized the bank.

Prosecutors scoffed at the notion and said Stanford funded his lavish lifestyle by siphoning $2 billion in investor deposits while pushing “bogus” certificates of deposits that promised artificially high returns based on “safe” investments.

Investigators could not find 92 percent of the $8 billion the bank said it had in assets and cash reserves.

Jurors found the mustachioed Texan guilty of 13 of 14 counts of fraud, conspiracy, money laundering and obstruction of justice in March.

A dual citizen of the United States and the Caribbean country of Antigua and Barbuda, Stanford was known for his largesse, especially on the two paradise islands.

He received a knighthood in 2006 from Antigua, where he was the largest employer, and rose to global prominence in 2008 by creating the Stanford 20/20 cricket tournament, which captured a television audience of 300 million.

His personal fiefdom began to crumble however, when the company attracted scrutiny from financial regulators.

Stanford was charged with fraud by the US Securities and Exchange Commission in February 2009 and arrested a few months later at his girlfriend’s home in the eastern US state of Virginia.

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