UK froze $100 mln linked to Stanford

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The Independent US

Britain froze £60.2m linked to alleged swindler Allen Stanford within five hours of a request from the United States Department of Justice, anti-corruption officials said today.

Stanford spent last night in a Texas jail after prosecutors told a federal judge he would likely flee the country rather than face life in prison if released on bail.

US District Judge David Hittner has said he will decide by this afternoon at the earliest whether to overturn an earlier court ruling that Stanford should be freed until his trial in return for a $500,000 bond.

The once high-flying billionaire and sports promoter, who faces life in prison if convicted of all 21 criminal charges against him in relation to a $7 billion Ponzi scheme, last week pleaded not guilty.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said today that it had obtained a restraining order on assets believed to be held by financial institutions in London on 7 April.

"These funds were allegedly acquired in connection with a suspected $7bn investment fraud scheme operated by Stanford," the SFO said in a statement.

The SFO said it felt able to release details of action taken by British authorities because Stanford had now been taken into FBI custody as part of a criminal investigation.

SFO Director Richard Alderman said he was determined such cross-border support for U.S. authorities became routine.