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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Law professors support SIPC in dispute with SEC over Stanford fraud

An amici brief filed by renowned law professors supports the industry-backed Securities Investor Protection Corp. in its dispute with the Securities and Exchange Commission over the liquidation of convicted Ponzi schemer R. Allen Stanford’s brokerage firm.

Phyllis Skupien (Westlaw Journal Securities Litigation and Regulation).
In an appeal before the District of Columbia U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the SEC seeks. to force the SIPC to liquidate Stanford Group Co. for the benefit of investors.

Like Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, which cost investors an estimated $17 billion, Allen Stanford’s fraud dwarfed most others and is estimated to have cost investors over $7 billion.

The SEC says Stanford’s victims are entitled to protection under the Securities Investor Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. § 78aaa, which compensates investors when their brokers become insolvent.

Prior proceedings

In 2009 the SEC charged Stanford and Stanford Group, which is currently in court-ordered receivership, with violating federal securities laws. SEC v. Pendergest-Holt et al., No. 09-CV-298, complaint filed (N.D. Tex. Feb. 17, 2009).

Stanford was sentenced to 110 years in prison in a related criminal proceeding last year for defrauding investors with fraudulent certificates of deposit issued by Stanford International Bank, his bank in Antigua. United States v. Stanford et al., No. 09-CR-00342, defendant sentenced (S.D. Tex., Houston June 14, 2012).

According to the SEC’s suit against the SIPC, the agency directed the SIPC in June 2011 to initiate proceedings to liquidate the Stanford Group, but the SIPC has refused to do so.

In July 2012 U.S. District Judge Robert L. Wilkins of the District of Columbia denied the SEC’s request for an order compelling the liquidation, and this appeal followed.

Not ‘customers’

The SIPC maintains it has no responsibility to the investors because the SEC cannot show that the Stanford Group ever physically possessed their funds at the time of their purchases.

The amici brief supports the SIPC and says the investors were not “customers” of the domestic broker-dealer because they lent money to the offshore Antigua bank — a foreign institution not subject to regulation under U.S. law.

The amici brief was filed by Professor Joseph A. Grundfest of Stanford Law School, former SEC Commissioner Paul S. Atkins, former SEC General Counsel Simon M. Lorne, Emory Law School professor William J. Carney and Stanford Law School professor emeritus Kenneth E. Scott.

They say the SEC’s actions would dramatically expand the scope of persons covered by the SIPC and should be rejected.

The SEC’s proposal to “deem” purchasers of CDs issued by a foreign bank to be “customers” of a domestic broker-dealer is contrary to the Securities Investor Protection Act and is “at odds with 40 years of judicial precedent,” the amici say.

The SEC’s expansion of the definition of the term “customer” would substantially increase the financial exposure of the SIPC fund, they add.

The agency has presented no economic analysis for the implications of this expanded coverage, the professors say, noting that the industry itself must pay fees to support the SIPC fund.

The professors urge the appeals court to reject the SEC’s “unprecedented interpretation” of the term “customer” and affirm Judge Wilkins’ decision.

The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association and the Financial Services Institute also filed amici briefs supporting the SIPC.

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Securities Investor Protection Corp., No. 12-5286, amici brief filed (D.C. Cir. Apr. 19, 2013)


For a full and open debate on the Stanford Receivership visit the Stanford International Victims Group - SIVG official forum

1 comment:

  1. Law professor? How about a geography teacher!!!

    Antigua is NOT part of the United States.

    These people need to apply to Antigua's deposit insurance scheme