February 20, 2009 / 12:06 AM / 9 years ago

Stanford surrenders passport

<p>A client of Stanford Bank Venezuela waits for the bank to open early in the morning in Caracas February 19, 2009. REUTERS/Alejandro Rustom</p>

FREDERICKSBURG, Virginia (Reuters) - Texas billionaire Allen Stanford has surrendered his passport in keeping with a court order, a spokesman for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said on Friday, but he was nowhere to be seen as this case played itself out on the world stage.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed charges in Dallas, Texas, on Tuesday against Stanford, two of his colleagues and three of his companies, accusing them of an $8 billion fraud.

Stanford went unsighted in this historic town on Friday, a day after agents from the FBI’s Richmond office, acting at the SEC’s request, served him with court papers. Fredericksburg is the family home of a woman said to be Stanford’s girlfriend.

The FBI served him here on Thursday with an SEC civil complaint and court orders freezing Stanford’s assets and appointing a receiver, the SEC said in a statement.

“I can confirm that all three defendants in our case have surrendered their passports,” Kevin Callahan, an SEC spokesman, said in an e-mailed reply to Reuters.

The co-defendants are James Davis, Stanford International Bank’s chief financial officer, and Laura Pendergest-Holt, the financial group’s chief investment officer.

The passports were due to be surrendered to the clerk of the court before a scheduled hearing in Dallas on March 2, according to documents filed at the federal district court in Dallas on Tuesday.

<p>A client of the Stanford Bank Venezuela talks to an employee after closing time in Caracas February 19, 2009. REUTERS/Alejandro Rustom</p>

Until Thursday, Stanford’s whereabouts had been the subject of intense speculation after he failed to respond to an SEC subpoena to answer questions about his company’s operations.

For much of the day, news crews maintained a vigil outside a family home here of Andrea Stoelker, the woman reputed to be Stanford’s girlfriend. But there were no signs that anyone was inside the modest, three-story, brick house on a quiet side street.

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Late in the afternoon, a young man dressed in jeans and who looked to be in his 30s, emerged from the house and stood at the top of the front steps. When asked about Stanford’s whereabouts, he said, “I don’t have a clue,” and quickly turned to go inside. He declined to give his name.

Stoelker is a former local resident identified in published reports as president of the board of directors of a cricket tournament that Stanford sponsored in Antigua, headquarters of his Stanford International Bank (SIB). SIB has affiliates in Mexico, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela.

Adding to the mystery surrounding this case was an ABC News report that Stanford had retained Brendan Sullivan, a lawyer with Williams & Connolly, who ultimately succeeded in his defense of Oliver North in the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s.

When asked about the report, one of Sullivan’s assistants, Rhonda Meadows, told Reuters early on Friday: “Mr. Sullivan has not been retained.”

(Reporting by Jim Wolf; Additional reporting by Edward Stoddard in Dallas; Editing by Toni Reinhold)

Reporting by Jim Wolf; Editing by

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