Stanford's lawyers reveal his depression and alcohol abuse
Friday 26 June 2009
Nine months ago, he was interviewed on business television saying, "yes, it is fun being a billionaire". Yesterday, dressed in an orange jumpsuit and with his hands manacled in front of him, Allen Stanford had something different to say: "Not guilty, your honour."
The flamboyant Texan appeared in a Houston courthouse accused of building his financial empire on a bedrock of lies and bribery, and defrauding thousands of investors to the tune of $7bn.
The pictures of Mr Stanford highlight the spectacular fall from grace of a man who promised to bankroll English cricket and sponsored sports stars from the world of golf and football. But his lawyers are promising a vigorous defence against the 21-count criminal indictment, and say he intends to pick himself up after the months of depression and alcohol abuse the allegations have caused.
The US Justice Department asked the judge in a court filing to remand Mr Stanford in custody. He has an international network of "wealthy acquaintances" who could assist him and has "experience using private jets at a moment's notice," it said, adding investigators have found $20m in a Swiss bank account not documented in company records. Dick DeGuerin, Mr Stanford's lawyer, said there was no risk of flight, however. The tycoon has complied with every request from the FBI and police marshals since they showed up at his girlfriend's door in Virginia with an arrest warrant last week.
And he lifted the lid on the 59-year-old tycoon's mental state, who says his business was legitimate when regulators shut it down. "Medication has proven beneficial," Mr DeGuerin said. "Since he began taking Ativan to appropriately manage his anxiety, Allen Stanford has not relied on alcohol to self-medicate."
Mr Stanford is accused of deceiving clients by claiming a $1.2bn investment fund at his bank in the Caribbean island of Antigua had grown over the past eight years to $8.5bn. In fact, according to prosecutors, much of the money was lent to Mr Stanford personally, or invested in assets worth much less than was claimed. Meanwhile, the tycoon paid Antigua's top regulator, Leroy King, more than $100,000 in bribes to turn a blind eye to irregularities. Mr King was sacked on Wednesday and arrested yesterday, and will face extradition to the US.
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