St. John’s Antigua- Government’s indebtedness is more of a worry to the Stanford Group of Companies than the 110-year-sentence its founder and sole shareholder Allen Stanford was meted in the US on Thursday.
That was the message from attorney Hugh Marshall Jr, when asked to comment on implications for the remaining Stanford companies after Stanford the man was told he would spend the rest of his life in jail for masterminding a USD$7 billion Ponzi scheme.
Stanford famously ran his organisations as a one-man show, prior to his arrest in 2009, but Marshall told OBSERVER Media yesterday that arrangements have long been in place to ensure that his absence would not mean a total end of operations.
“After February of 2009, one of our obligations was to regularise companies in terms of talent, and directors were appointed. Those directors are still the directors today,” he said.
Prior to a US Securities and Exchange (SEC) raid on Stanford’s headquarters in Houston Texas three years ago, the group of companies was the unchallenged emperor of private job providers in Antigua & Barbuda. Now, though, the empire largely exists on paper only.
“None of the companies have been (wound) down, although some of them have ceased operations. One of the companies which is still continuing – the main company which still continues – is Stanford Development Company,” said Marshall, describing also the 100 or so people he said still work for Stanford Development Limited as a skeleton staff.
Stanford Development, though, has lost nearly all – if not all – of its revenue, as its primary customers had been fellow Stanford Group companies, which no longer operate.
Marshall said that situation, coupled with government’s resistance to attempts to access back taxes to pay creditors, has added to the pressures exerted by the general economic slowdown, whose beginning coincided roughly with the move of the SEC against Stanford.
He said that despite the pressures, attempts are being made to pay down multi-million dollar debt to past employees and to suppliers.
“There are numerous creditors that it has paid. Some of the workers have begun to receive their severance instalments for some of the companies. There are debts owing to Stanford Development Company, in particular debts from the government of Antigua & Barbuda,” he said.
One of the contentious cases between government and Stanford involves an $18-million sales tax refund ordered by the Supreme Court in March. Government has indicated intent to appeal to the Privy Council.