Stanford lawyers blast receiver's $20 million request

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Lawyers for Allen Stanford, the Texas financier charged with an $8.5 billion fraud by U.S. regulators, on Friday characterized a $20 million fee request by the case’s receiver as “exorbitant,” according to a court filing.

Texas billionaire Allen Stanford, accused by the U.S. government of running an $8 billion Ponzi scheme, is pictured during an interview with Reuters at the offices of a Houston attorney April 20, 2009. REUTERS/Chris Baltimore

“There is no law or court order that authorizes or justifies the receiver’s expenditures of nearly $20 million in eight weeks,” Stanford’s court filing in federal court in Dallas, said.

Ralph Janvey, the court-appointed attorney who took over Stanford’s assets and operations in February, made the request for fees and costs in May, arguing in court papers that the work and challenges related to the case were numerous, complex, and difficult.

Lawyers for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as well as the court-appointed examiner also filed objections to Janvey’s fee request.

The receiver’s request covers bills for lawyers, a public relations firm and a forensic accounting firm that did work for him early in the case.

But Stanford is accusing Janvey of wasting money and mishandling the estate with plans such as selling assets like Stanford’s yacht, the Sea Eagle, at cut-rate prices, according to court papers.

A spokeswoman for Janvey did not have an immediate comment on the filing.

And shutting Stanford’s businesses and terminating their employees “may have already caused irreparable losses to the estate,” and cost taxpayers billions of dollars, Stanford’s lawyers argued in court papers.

Stanford, two aides and three Stanford companies are named in a civil complaint accusing them of a massive scheme involving high-yield certificates of deposit issued by Stanford’s bank in Antigua.

The case is: SEC v Stanford International Bank Ltd., No.3:09-CV-00298.

Reporting by Anna Driver, editing by Leslie Gevirtz