Did campaign contributions help to stall SEC investigation of Stanford?

As mentioned in yesterday's story about R. Allen Stanford, someone told the SEC to "call off its dogs." A report from the Center for Responsive Politics may explain who put that pressure on the SEC. Since 2000, the Stanford Financial Group has given more than $2.4 million to federal candidates and Stanford and his wife Susan have personally contributed $931,000 between the 2000 and 2006 election cycles.

Some 78 percent of those donations when to Democrats, but big-name Republicans received their fair share, too. Former Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio), who infamously served prison time for this role in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, got $28,200 from Stanford Financial group. And former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), who reportedly few on Stanford's jet, collected $20,100 from the company since 2000. The top two recipients were Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who got $45,900 and Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) who got $41,375. Stanford Financial Group played both sides of the fence in the presidential race, giving $31,750 to Barack Obama and $28,150 to John McCain.

While there is no evidence that political pressure is what did stall the investigation of Stanford, SEC investigators should definitely be looking into this connection.Yesterday, the FBI finally did find Stanford in Fredericksburg, Virginia, while he was riding in a car with this girlfriend. He was served with an SEC civil lawsuit, but no criminal charges have been filed and he's not considered a fugitive. He did agree to make arrangements to surrender his passport.

Standford's father, James, was found in his home town of Mexia, Texas, before the FBI reported finding Allen Stanford and told the AP that, "I can't believe that they would be involved in an illegal scam to defraud investors." He added that he was "very concerned that he hadn't heard from him. I thought surely he won't try to flee."

Thursday a Federal judge in Dallas froze Stanford's assets, along with those of three entities affiliated with Stanford Financial Group, and appointed a receiver. Stanford has not been charged with running a Ponzi scheme. Right now the charges involve deceiving investors about the security of the CDs his bank sold and the kind of assets in which his customer's money was invested. The SEC alleges that it can't find about $8 billion that Stanford International Bank in Antigua has taken in from CD sales.

Lita Epstein has written more than 25 books including "Reading Financial Reports for Dummies" (second edition published January 2009).
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