DALLAS, (Reuters) – A federal judge has granted the U.S. government’s request to indefinitely freeze the assets of Texan financier Allen Stanford, whom regulators have accused of running a massive Ponzi scheme. and three of his companies.
U.S. District Judge David Godbey also agreed to release most brokerage accounts over $250,000 that have been frozen since the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission accused Stanford of an $8 billion fraud scheme involving certificates of deposit.
At a brief hearing in federal court in Dallas, Godbey agreed to the SEC’s request for a preliminary injunction that freezes Stanford assets until a trial in the civil lawsuit is complete. The three group companies involved are Stanford International Bank, Stanford Group Co and Stanford Capital Management. The original temporary restraining order freezing the assets was set to expire on Thursday.
Godbey also approved a plan submitted by court-appointed receiver Ralph Janvey to release most customer brokerage accounts with a net asset value of $250,000 or more, brokerage accounts held by JP Morgan Clearing Corp and brokerage accounts managed by Stanford companies.
Hundreds of Stanford investors have sued Janvey to get access to their accounts.
The release would affect about 16,000 accounts with about $4.1 billion in assets, with about 4,000 accounts with assets of $1.8 billion still subject to the freeze, based on data in court document filed by Janvey.
Accounts with net assets of less than $250,000 held at Pershing LLC have already been released.
Stanford and his top aide, James Davis, are accused by the SEC of a massive Ponzi scheme involving high-yield certificates of deposit (CDs) issued by Stanford’s offshore bank in Antigua.
Both have asserted their constitutional right to avoid self-incrimination and have declined to cooperate in the government’s probe.
Charles Meadows, a Dallas-based lawyer who had previously represented Stanford, said in a recent filing that the allegations against his client are “false and the SEC has presented no evidence of any such Ponzi scheme.” Meadows yesterday filed notice that he no longer represents Stanford, leaving Stanford’s legal representation unclear.