The clock is still ticking on what would appear to be an inevitable indictment for disgraced Texas financier R. Allen Stanford, the man who allegedly ran an $8 billion Ponzi scheme out of his Antigua-based bank. It appears the federal prosecutors manning the investigation are trying to make sure they have an airtight case before filing criminal charges--something Stanford and his lawyer expect will happen any day.
At first blush, it's hard to fathom why it should take this long for prosecutors to file charges, given that Stanford and two of his top associates were the subject of a civil action by the Securities and Exchange Commission nearly three months ago. One of those associates, Laura Pendergest-Holt, has even been indicted on federal obstruction of justice charges. But still nothing on Stanford.
Bryan Burroughs, in the most recent issue of Vanity Fair, does a good job detailing how just about every US investigative agency was on Stanford's tail for more than 15 years. But whether it was allegations of money laundering, or fleecing investors with the sale of dubious CDs, no one was ever able to get the goods on Stanford.
In fact, I'm told Houston and New Orleans agents from DEA and IRS even considered running an ABSCAM-style sting on Stanford in 1998. The plan called for the agencies to work together and rent a yacht and throw a party with undercover agents posing as big-time drug dealers. The agencies planned to invite Stanford and some of his cronies to the party to see if he'd be willing to do business with the drug dealers. In other words, help them hide the proceeds from their illegal trade. The sting never happened. It's not entirely clear why.
Ironically, a year later, DEA agents in Miami would praise Stanford as being one of the good guys in agreeing to turn over money that a group of alleged drug dealers had stashed away in an account at his Antigua-based bank. Again, it's not clear if the Miami agents knew about the aborted sting the Houston agents had discussed.