SEC and SIPC Clash Over Standard of Proof Necessary to Insure Investors For Stanford Ponzi Fraud Losses
The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Securities Investor Protection Corporation are at odds over what the standard of proof should be used for the SEC’s application to make SIPC start liquidation proceedings for Stanford Group Co. The SEC recently sued the non-profit corporation, which is supposed to provide coverage protection for investors in the event that the brokerage firm they are working with fails. The SIPC has so far refused to provide the defrauded investors of R. Allen Stanford’s $7 billion Ponzi scam with any compensation, contending that the Stanford bank involved in the scam was Stanford International Bank Ltd. in Antigua and not SIPC member Stanford Group. Stanford has been convicted on 13 criminal counts related to the financial fraud.
During a U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia hearing, SC chief litigation counsel Matthew Martens said the probable cause standard is sensible in light of the Securities Investor Protection Act’s structure. SIPC lawyer Eugene Frank Assaf Jr., however, contended that the preponderance of the evidence standard is the one that should be used. Assaf said this should be the standard because this is SIPC’s only chance to seriously challenge the “compulsion issue.”
The SEC and SIPC have been battling it out since June 2011 when the Commission asked the latter to start liquidation proceedings on the grounds that individuals who had invested in the Ponzi scam through SGC deserved protection under SIPA. SIPC, however, did not act on this request. So the SEC went to court to get an order compelling the nonprofit organization to begin liquidating. The Commission was granted a partial win last month when the court found that a summary proceeding would be enough to resolve the SEC’s application.
Some 21,000 clients who purchased CD’s through SGC would be able to file claims for reimbursement through SIPA if the SEC prevails in this case.
Earlier this month, SIPC CEO and President Stephen Harbeck stood by the entity’s decision to not provide loss coverage to the victims of R. Allen Stanford’s Ponzi scam. When giving testimony to the House Financial Services Capital Markets Subcommittee, Harbeck noted that Stanford’s investors made the choice to send their assets to an offshore bank that wasn’t protected by the US government.
He pointed to the SEC’s own statements regarding how the CDs these investors purchased paid return rates that were “excessive” and likely “impossible.” He said that SIPA has never been interpreted to “pay back the purchase price of a bad investment. “
SEC Suit Pursues Payouts by SIPC, The Wall Street Journal, December 13, 2011
More Blog Posts:
SEC and SIPC Go to Court Over Whether SIPA Protects Stanford Ponzi Fraud Investors, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, February 6, 2012
SEC Sues SIPC Over R. Allen Stanford Ponzi Payouts, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, December 20, 2011
SEC Gets Initial Victory in Lawsuit Against SIPC Over Payments Owed to Stanford Ponzi Scam Investors, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, February 10, 2012