Stanford’s St. Croix office building shuttered

CHRISTIANSTED, U.S. Virgin Islands, (Reuters) –  Allen Stanford’s office building has closed, an employee said  yesterday, following the reported arrival on the Caribbean  island of the court-appointed receiver overseeing the assets of  the Texas billionaire, who is facing fraud charges.

An employee at the office on King Street in downtown  Christiansted, whose hurricane shutters were closed, would only  say the office was not open for business. He referred questions  to the Stanford compound on Hill Street, a lavish, 18th-century  mansion that once belonged to Danish comedian and pianist  Victor Borge.

Phone calls to Stanford Caribbean Investments and Stanford  Financial Group Global Management, both located in the  yellow-colored mansion, were unanswered.

A Stanford spokesman  in New York referred all calls to the U.S. Securities and  Exchange Commission. An SEC spokesman could not confirm the  situation in St. Croix.

Last week, the SEC filed civil charges against Stanford,  58, two of his colleagues and three of his companies, accusing  them of fraudulently selling $8 billion in certificates of  deposit with improbably high interest rates from his Stanford  International Bank Ltd (SIB), headquartered in Antigua.  Regulators in Antigua have seized Stanford’s banks and  companies there.

No criminal charges have been brought against Stanford.
Stanford, a well-connected sports entrepreneur, and his  affiliates own nearly $31 million worth of commercial and  residential property on St. Croix, the largest of the U.S.  Virgin Islands, according to public records. He also leases 37  acres of property near St. Croix’s airport where he planned to  build a massive office complex, intended to serve as  headquarters for support functions for his financial empire.

A spokesman for John deJongh, governor of the U.S. Virgin  Islands, told Reuters on Monday he had heard the receiver  arrived on Friday and met with employees, but he could not  independently verify it.

The St. Croix Avis, the island’s daily paper, reported yesterday that the receiver allegedly halted operations at the  King Street office on Friday and told employees to pack up  their belongings and go home until further notice, citing an  unnamed employee.

Receivers often will close offices for companies they  oversee if they feel the cost of running the office outweighs  the benefit, said Michael Goldberg, an attorney with Ft.  Lauderdale-based Akerman Senterfitt, who has served as the  receiver in several fraud cases.

But regarding Stanford’s other assets, such as personal  property and a yacht, Goldberg guessed the receiver is on a  fact-finding mission right now.

“When you first come into a case you start looking at  various places where the person might have had assets or spent  significant time,” Goldberg said, so they may eventually end up  under the umbrella of the receivership.

Yet the receiver does have power to take control of those  assets, pending further court order, Goldberg said.
James Sullivan, the U.S. Marshal for the U.S. Virgin  Islands, said yesterday he had not heard anything from the  receiver, Dallas lawyer Ralph Janvey, who was appointed by the  U.S. District Court in Dallas, Texas.

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