Run on Stanford banks in wake of fraud charges

Hundreds of people in Antigua queued today to withdraw money from banks linked to Sir Allen Stanford, the Twenty20 cricket mogul and US financier, after being panicked by the $8bn fraud charges against his company.

There was a run on two branches of the Bank of Antigua, owned by the Texan billionaire's Stanford Financial Group. The banks have not been linked to the allegations of fraud lodged at a federal court in Dallas yesterday.
In Panama, bank regulators said they had taken over the local affiliate of Stanford Financial Group after a similar run on customer deposits.

Hundreds of Venezuelans mobbed local offices of Stanford International. It was the second day that long lines formed at offices in Venezuela, people with investments at the company said. Venezuelans have an estimated $2.5bn invested in Stanford International, the country's banking regulator has said.

Confusion surrounds 'auditor' of Allen Stanford's business empire

The Antigua-based accountancy firm purportedly responsible for auditing Allen Stanford's $8bn (£5.6bn) business empire is in a state of confusion following the death of its founder last month.

The firm, CAS Hewlett, is described by the US Securities and Exchange Commission as a "small local accounting firm". The regulator said its efforts to make contact had been unsuccessful: "The commission attempted several times to contact Hewlett by telephone. No one ever answered the phone."

Yesterday the SEC accused Stanford of perpetrating a multibillion-dollar fraud, raising questions about how the Stanford empire had been monitored.
When the Guardian tried calling CAS Hewlett today, the phone was answered promptly by an office manager, Eugene Perry. Perry said that CAS Hewlett's chief executive, Charlesworth Hewlett, died in January. When asked who had taken over managing the firm, Perry replied: "At present, the company is in transition and it has not really been sorted out yet."

Indeed, it is far from clear whether CAS Hewlett is still the auditor for Stanford International Bank. Perry said: "That's one of the things I'm not too sure of. You see, their year end is 31st December. Mr Hewlett died on January 1st."

When asked how many people work at CAS Hewlett, Mr Perry said this was "a tough question" before requesting that all further enquiries be made by email.