Former cricket backer Stanford found guilty of £4.5bn fraud

A FORMER Texas financier and playboy was convicted yesterday of running a $7 billion (£4.5bn) Ponzi scheme, which paid “investors” back their own money rather than generating profits.

Allen Stanford’s empire was closed down in February 2009 by the US government. Yesterday he was found guilty of fraud, conspiracy and obstructing an investigation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission. He faces up to 20 years in jail.

Stanford’s personal fortune was once valued at $2.2bn. During a six-week trial, prosecutors told how Stanford, 61, repeatedly raided the bank he owned in Antigua, Stanford International Bank, using it as his “personal ATM”. Among his exploits was putting up a $20 million prize for an international cricket tournament between England and the West Indies.

He bought a castle in Florida for one of his girlfriends and his oldest daughter lived in a million-dollar penthouse in Houston. The star witness, former Stanford aide James Davis, testified he and Stanford faked documents and reports to fool investors while siphoning cash off via a Swiss bank account.

His lawyer said he expects sentencing in several months.