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Stanford’s Antigua Bribes: Why No FCPA Charges?

Allen Stanford, the former Texas billionaire with a Caribbean knighthood, was sentenced Thursday to 110 years in prison for running a $7 billion Ponzi scheme.

He was convicted in March of 13 fraud and conspiracy counts. Prosecutors said he sold phony certificates of deposit to thousand of investors through his offshore bank in Antigua.

Although the feds alleged that Stanford used bribery to keep his Ponzi scheme afloat, and a witness at his trial described a Swiss slush fund used to bribe an Antiguan bank regulator, Stanford didn’t face any FCPA charges.

Why not?

Probably because Leroy King, the Antiguan bank regulator, is an American citizen. Actually, he’s a dual citizen of the United States and Antigua and Barbuda, West Indies.

The FCPA outlaws bribes to ‘foreign officials.’ It doesn’t say anything about the nationality of the ‘foreign officials,’ or whether they have to be non-U.S. citizens.

But King’s American passport could have muddied the waters at Stanford’s trial. It would have been the first time in an FCPA case where a ‘foreign official’ with U.S. citizenship was the alleged bribe taker. Even if the DOJ had won convictions against Stanford on FCPA counts, years of appeals about King’s status might have followed.

Stanford was already facing 250 years in prison for fraud and conspiracy. U.S. prosecutors didn’t need the FCPA counts — which carry prison terms of up to five years. So Sir Allen wasn’t charged for the Antigua bribery.

It’s still an open question, then, whether Americans can be ‘foreign officials’ under the FCPA.


The DOJ’s June 14, 2012 release about Stanford’s sentencing is here.

Download the June 18, 2009 indictment in US v. Robert Allen Stanford aka Sir Allen Stanford et al here.

Download the SEC’s Second Amended Complaint in SEC v. Stanford International Bank, Ltd., et al. here.

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