Antigua Senate approves seizure of Stanford land

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, (Reuters) – Antigua and  Barbuda’s Senate yesterday approved a government takeover of  land owned by Texas billionaire Allen Stanford, accused in an  $8 billion securities fraud.

The approval followed passage by the Caribbean nation’s  House of Representatives on Thursday of a government motion to  take control of more than 250 acres of Stanford property before  a U.S. court-appointed receiver seizes it.
The motion, which states the land is “required for a public  purpose,” now goes to the governor-general, Louise Lake-Tack,  for formal passage into law.

Opposition senators abstained from voting. The opposition  had argued that the government should wait to see more evidence  of wrongdoing by Stanford and whether U.S. authorities will   level criminal charges against him.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last week filed  civil fraud charges against Stanford, a 58-year-old financier  and sports tycoon. The case rocked Antigua and Barbuda, a  twin-island state where he held businesses and properties and  is the biggest private investor and employer.

Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer’s government has made clear  it wants to seize the Stanford land, which includes plots  housing his Antigua-based banks and companies, as well as  beachside homes and development properties, to mitigate the  impact on the local economy of the fraud scandal.

“We have to give ourselves a bargaining chip, so when the  receivers come they have to deal with the government of Antigua  and Barbuda,” Spencer told the House of Representatives after  it approved the land takeover measure.

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