20 Feb 2009

Accused billionaire found in US

11:50 am on 20 February 2009

FBI agents have found Texas billionaire Sir Allen Stanford in the Fredericksburg, Virginia, area and on Thursday served him with court papers accusing him of massive fraud.

Federal Bureau of Investigation spokesman Richard Kolko said the office acted at the request of the US Securities and Exchange Commission and that Sir Allen, whose whereabouts had been unknown for the past few days, had not been arrested.

The billionaire and two other executives are accused of fraudulently selling $US8 billion in high-yield certificates of deposit in a scheme that stretched around the world.

The Texan billionaire had not seen seen since Tuesday, when the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint.

The SEC said only the financier and a close associate knew where most of the money was.

Depositors have been queuing to withdraw their money from commercial banks associated with the billionaire.

Many details about the alleged fraud remain unclear, but the SEC said Sir Allen and two other executives and three of their companies promised clients unrealistic returns on certificates of deposit and committed other financial fraud.

The SEC described it as "fraud of shocking magnitude that has spread its tentacles throughout the world".

A US judge has frozen the assets of Sir Allen and the other accused as well as those of the Stanford Group, its Antigua-based subsidiary Stanford International Bank, and another subsidiary, investment adviser Stanford Capital Management.

Sir Allen, a leading figure in the cricket world, last year promoted the Stanford cricket series which saw a West Indian all-star team - the Stanford Superstars - beat an England team for a $US20m prize.

The England and Wales Cricket Board, which has a five-year deal to play games against the Stanford Superstars, suspended sponsorship negotiations with him following the fraud charges.