By Calvin Palmer
A BBC program due to air tomorrow night claims Texas financier R. Allen Stanford, who is accused of an $8 billion (£5.6 billion) bank fraud, worked as a U.S. government informer.
An investigation by the current affairs program Panorama suggests Stanford was shielded from an earlier inquiry into his activities because he co-operated with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to track money laundered by Latin American drug cartels.
In February, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil charges alleging a “massive Ponzi scheme”.
Stanford, 59, denies intentional fraud. He told ABC News in a recent interview: ““I will die and go to hell if it’s a Ponzi scheme. It’s no Ponzi scheme.”
No criminal charges have been filed against him and he denies any wrongdoing.
Panorama claimed some U.S. officials were aware of Sir Allen’s cartel links as long ago as 1990. It reported that Stanford, paid a $3.1 million (£2.05 million) check to the DEA in 1999 after that sum was invested in his bank by another Mexican drug gang, the Juarez cartel of Amada Carillo Fuentes.
According to Panorama, Stanford was initially investigated by the SEC over suspicions he was running a Ponzi scheme in the summer of 2006, but the inquiry was over by the winter of that year.
The BBC claims the decision to close the investigation followed a request by another government agency.
Panorama says it is aware of “strong evidence” that Stanford was a “confidential agent” for the DEA as far back as 1999 and turned over details of money laundering by clients from Colombia, Mexico and Ecuador.
Rodney Gallagher, a British financial investigator, who knew Stanford in the 1980s said it was clear to him that the Texan had “a very close relationship with the DEA” and occasionally hired former agency staff to work for him.
The DEA declined to comment to the BBC on its allegations.
Stanford has insisted that getting involved with the Mexican cartels is “something absolutely foreign to everything in my body”.
[Based on a report by The Daily Telegraph.]