Exclusive: Tearful Allen Stanford Expects Indictment in Two Weeks
In First Interview Accused Financier Denies Ponzi Scheme, Drug Cartel Connection
By BRIAN ROSS and VIC WALTER
April 6, 2009
Flamboyant financier 'Sir' Allen Stanford expects to be indicted by a federal grand jury in the next two weeks, he told ABC News in an interview in which he cried, denied wrongdoing and threatened to punch his questioner in the mouth.
"I would die and go to hell if it's a Ponzi scheme," Stanford said in reaction to civil allegations from the Securities and Exchange Commission that he bilked thousands of customers in an $8 billion fraudulent scheme involving "self-styled certificates of deposits" with "improbable" rates of return.
"Baloney. Baloney," Stanford told ABC News. "It's not a Ponzi scheme. If it was a Ponzi scheme, why are they finding billions and billions of dollars all over the place?"
Watch the full story tonight on World News with Charles Gibson at 6:30 p.m. ET.
The SEC says it has frozen all of Stanford's assets it has found, including $4.6 billion which a federal judge recently "unfroze" so it could be distributed to his depositors and customers. According to SEC officials, only $500 million connected to the alleged fraud has been recovered so far.
Stanford says he is assembling a legal team, including Houston criminal defense lawyer Dick DeGuerin, to fight the indictment he expects soon.
A Department of Justice spokesperson declined to comment on the Stanford investigation but a senior official said the case is "moving along rapidly."
Stanford Near Tears During Interview
Stanford was near tears throughout the interview, and at times cried as he described how the SEC action had deprived him of being listed as the 405th wealthiest person in the world by Forbes magazine.
"I'm the maverick rich Texan where they can put the moose head on the wall. And that's the only reason they went after me," Stanford said. "I'm fighting for my survival and for my integrity."
"Bullsh--. That's bullsh--," he said. "It makes me madder than hell and it touches the core of my soul."
Stanford Says He's Been Forced to Fly Commercial
Stanford said the government action to seize his assets had left him with little money and few changes of clothing. He was forced to fly on a commercial plane for the first time in almost two decades after the government seized his fleet of six private jets.
"They make you take your shoes off and everything, it's terrible," he complained about the airport security that apparently came as a surprise to him.
Stanford also strongly denied an ABC News report, citing senior law enforcement officials, that he was under investigation in connection with the alleged laundering of money for a Mexican drug cartel.
"If you say it to my face again, I will punch you in the mouth," he said.
Then backing off, Stanford said, "No, I'm not going to punch you in the mouth. But I'm just saying that's an absolutely, absolutely ludicrous thing to say. Anybody who knows me knows that's the case."
"Any bank, any organization, financial organization the size we are, you cannot be sure, a hundred per cent sure that every customer you have is clean," Stanford said.
Stanford acknowledged the government found and seized $3 million in drug money in his bank several years ago, along with similar suspect money in other, larger banks.
"Who gets the publicity? We get the publicity. I get the publicity because I'm the guy that's flamboyant, the fun guy to write about," he told ABC News.
Golfer V.J. Singh Standing by Stanford
Stanford said he still has the support of many of his former employees and was heartened to learn that top professional golfer V. J. Singh was sticking by him.
Singh, who was sponsored by Stanford, continued to wear his Stanford cap during a major tournament this weekend in Houston.
"I love him to death, he's a great friend. He's standing by me and others are standing by me. A few, not many, but a few," said Stanford.
Singh told reporters he was continuing to support Stanford "at the moment."
ABC News' Avni Patel, Joseph Rhee and Justin Rood contributed to this report.