Antiguan liquidators win fight over Stanford assets

LONDON, England: Antiguan liquidators have won control of the more than US$100 million of Sir Allen Stanford’s assets in the United Kingdom.

Joint receivers-liquidators Nigel Hamilton-Smith and Peter Wastell went to the High Court of Justice of England and Wales after they could not agree with American receiver, Ralph Janvey, on who should have control of the UK assets that were frozen under two London court orders – one at the request of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission and the other, the UK Serious Fraud Office.

After three days of hearings, the court decided that Antigua & Barbuda is the main centre of interest of Stanford International Bank (SIB) – which is at the centre of Sir Allen’s alleged US$8 billion fraud, therefore, the Caribbean nation should formally be recognized in the UK as the party to whom control of the assets should pass.

“We shall now be liaising with the relevant financial institutions, as well as the SEC and the Serious Fraud Office, to ensure the release of these funds to the control of the joint liquidators, which will ultimately form part of the monies that will, in due course, be available for distribution to the investors and creditors of SIB.

In a statement issued after the ruling, Hamilton-Smith said: “Legal proceedings continue in the United States, Switzerland and Canada for the same recognition and control of SIB’s assets and we hope that the decision in the United Kingdom will assist in the formal co-operation now being achieved between the joint liquidators and the U.S.-appointed receiver, seeking to avoid significant further legal costs being incurred from the estate of SIB in relation to recognition and control.”

Janvey, however, issued a statement expressing his dissatisfaction with the court’s decision.

“To the extent the UK decision recognizes the Antiguan Liquidators and the Antiguan liquidation proceeding as superior to the Receiver and the U.S. receivership, the Receiver believes it is wrongly decided and should be reversed. The Receiver will appeal the decision so it can be reviewed by a higher court,” Janvey stated.

Since all SIB’s UK assets have been frozen under two separate orders by the courts in that country, Janvey said the bank’s cash “is required to remain in place, unless and until the court lifts or modifies the freeze, or the requesting party agrees to a lifting or modification of the freeze”.

Janvey and the Antiguan liquidators have been battling over Sir Allen’s assets since they were given jurisdiction in their separate countries to take over the companies involved in the investor fraud case.

Hamilton-Smith and Wastell, Client Partners at British accounting firm Vantis Business Recovery, were made joint receivers of SIB in February. Two months later they were appointed joint liquidators.

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