Allen Stanford

He was the son of a Texas barber and then a self-styled colonial gentleman who used the title Sir, but now Allen Stanford is an accused con man in a federal lock up.

Texas financier Stanford was arrested in June and charged with cheating 50,000 customers out of $8 billion. "I am the maverick rich Texan that they can put the moosehead on the wall," Stanford told ABC News in an exclusive before his arrest. He also accused the federal government in failing in its oversight.

From his headquarters on the Caribbean island of Antigua, the Securities Exchange Commission alleges Stanford ran a fraud promising investors impossible returns, much like Bernie Madoff's $50 billion alleged Ponzi scheme.

But in addition to angry clients, Stanford, like Madoff, has many friends in Washington.

In the last decade, Stanford and his companies have spent more than $7 million on lobbyists and campaign contributions in efforts to loosen regulation of offshore banks.

Among the top recipients: Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Congressman Pete Sessions (R-Texas), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), one of the members who took a trip to Antigua where he was entertained by Stanford.

But fraud charges may be the least of Stanford's worries. Federal authorities tell ABC News that the FBI and others have been investigating whether Stanford was involved in laundering drug money for Mexico's notorious Gulf Cartel.

Click Here to Return to 2009: The Year of Behaving Badly.

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