ST. JOHN'S, Antigua (Reuters) – Hundreds of people lined up to withdraw money from banks in Antigua and Caracas affiliated with Texas billionaire Allen Stanford, a day after the tycoon was charged with an $8 billion fraud.
The whereabouts of the brash, 58-year-old financier were unknown. CNBC television said he tried to hire a private jet to fly from Houston, the site of his U.S. headquarters, to Antigua, but the jet lessor refused to accept his credit card.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has accused Stanford of operating a fraud centered on the sale of certificates of deposit from his Antiguan affiliate, Stanford International Bank Ltd (SIB).
The scheme has drawn comparisons with the alleged $50 billion fraud by Wall Street veteran Bernard Madoff.
In the twin-island state of Antigua and Barbuda, where Stanford is the biggest private employer, Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer said the charges against him could have "catastrophic" consequences but urged the public not to panic.
Two police officers stood watch at the Bank of Antigua as at least 600 people stood in a line stretching around a street corner, despite assurances from regional monetary authorities that the bank had sufficient reserves.
John Cornyn manages to get involved in every significant Texas-based financial swindle/scandal, yet the brain-dead Texas conservatives continue sending him back to Congress to defraud us over and over again.
All was quiet on Wednesday outside Stanford's Houston office, a day after a raid by federal agents. A man who answered the phone at Stanford's Boston offices but declined to give his name said, "The office is open but we are not doing anything."
Certainly nothing like identifying yourself or closing investors' accounts and returning all their money, eh buddy?
Stanford, who holds dual U.S.-Antiguan citizenship, has donated millions of dollars to U.S. politicians and secured endorsements from sports stars, including golfer Vijay Singh and soccer player Michael Owen.
Stanford lived for more than 20 years in the reef-girded island of Antigua, only 9 miles wide and 12 miles long with a population of just 70,000.
He owns the country's largest newspaper, heads a local commercial bank, and is the first American to receive a knighthood from its government. He has homes sprinkled across the region, from Antigua to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands to Miami.
I would like for John Cornyn to join Roland Burris on the unemployment line ASAP.
Update: From Trail Blazers ...
Sen. John McCain of Arizona was the first major recipient to step forward (and disgorge Stanford's political contributions). An aide said this morning that he will donate his receipts -- $28,150, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics - to a yet-to-be named charity.
McCain was the 3d biggest recipient from Stanford, his employees and his company's political action committee.
No word yet on disgorgement from the others in the top five, including two Texans: Bill Nelson, D-Fla. ($45,900); runner-up, Dallas GOP Rep. Pete Sessions ($41,375); fourth place Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn. ($27,500), and Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn ($19,700).