US chasing Stanford for tax bill

(BBC) – The US government is chasing at least $226.6m (£161m) in taxes, penalties and interest it says billionaire American financier Sir Allen Stanford owes.

The Internal Revenue Service tax agency has filed a request with a federal judge in Dallas to pursue the alleged bill, dating from 1999-2003.

He is also being ordered to file a 2007 tax return.

Sir Allen is being investigating for an alleged $8 billion fraud – but he does not yet face any criminal charges.

The tax agency filed four tax demands against Sir Allen and his wife in 2007 and 2008. But in August, the Stanfords requested a hearing to contest how much it was said they owed.

Court documents have shown that Sir Allen – whose assets have been frozen – has refused to talk to US regulators investigating the alleged fraud.

The civil case against Sir Allen, whose personal fortune was estimated at $2.2 billion by Forbes magazine – has been brought by US financial watchdog, the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) says Sir Allen is guilty of a fraud of “shocking magnitude”.

They accuse him of orchestrating the fraud through his Stanford Financial Group, which the SEC says offered unrealistically high returns to investors.

The SEC says he ran a Ponzi-style fraud scheme, whereby earlier investors were paid returns through money gained from newer investors, rather than from any actual investment profit.

Sir Allen came to prominence last year when he sponsored a high-profile Twenty20 cricket tournament, which culminated in a match between England and an all-stars West Indies team that gave each winning player $1m.

His property in the Caribbean state of Antigua and Barbuda, where many of his business interests are based, was recently seized by the islands’ government.

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