When receivers bicker

By Felix Salmon
April 22, 2009

This is unhelpful in the extreme. As you probably know, Stanford International Bank, an Antigua-based financial institution, turns out to have been an $8 billion Ponzi scheme, and now the receivers in both Antigua and the US are trying to pick up the pieces and return whatever money they might be able to find to Stanford’s depositors. Except instead of cooperating, they’re bickering, nastily:

In court documents filed late on Monday, Nigel Hamilton Smith, the receiver appointed by the Antiguan government, asked a Texas judge to rescind some of the authority initially bestowed on the US-appointed receiver, Ralph Janvey…

In the filing on Monday, Mr Hamilton-Smith described Mr Janvey as “initially giving lip service to the concept of co-operation”, and said the US receiver had “by and large refused to co-operate”…

Subsequent to the court ruling, Mr Janvey said he intended to contest any efforts by his Antigua-based counterpart “to seek to recover assets that would be distributed only through the Antiguan proceedings”.

There is no reason whatsoever why assets properly belonging to Venezuelan depositors, who put their money in an Antiguan bank, should travel through the USA before being returned to their rightful owner — especially when there’s an enormous tax lien against Stanford in the US, which is senior to any depositors’ claims.
It’s unclear to me why Janvey is taking such an aggressive approach, but he should tone it down: he’s sounding borderline imperialist right now, with his implications that because he represents the USA, he should automatically be in charge of the entire operation.

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