HOUSTON (Reuters) - The lawyer overseeing the assets and operations of Stanford Financial Group filed a lawsuit on Wednesday to recover $40 million in pay the firm’s advisers earned selling certificates of deposit regulators say are at the heart of an $8 billion fraud.
Ralph Janvey, the court-appointed receiver, is seeking pay from 66 advisers named in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Dallas.
Allen Stanford, two top aides and three of his companies are accused by U.S. regulators of a massive Ponzi scheme involving high-yield certificates of deposit issued by Stanford’s Antigua bank.
The commissions and other compensation paid to the advisers “came not from revenue generated by legitimate business activities, but from monies contributed by defrauded investors,” the lawsuit said.
Over the last two years, the Stanford advisers named in the lawsuit received commissions ranging from $2.6 million to $200,000 to promote the sale of the certificates of deposit (CDs), according to Janvey.
Stanford advisers and company literature touted the CDs as a safe, liquid investment when the funds were actually invested in illiquid assets like real estate and private equity, the SEC has charged.
The Stanford firm was able to keep the scheme going for a time by using a portion of funds from current CD sales to make interest and redemption payments on preexisting CDs, the lawsuit said.
But in late 2008 and early 2009, redemptions increased to the point that new sales were inadequate to cover redemptions and the scheme collapsed, according to the lawsuit.
A Houston attorney representing a number of Stanford advisers could not immediately be reached for comment.
At a meeting in early March, a number of Stanford advisors said they were unaware of the fraud and also suffering financially because Janvey had frozen their accounts.
Some have petitioned the court to have their accounts released.
Allen Stanford and his lawyers have said he was not involved in a Ponzi scheme, where early investors are paid with funds from later investors.
Reporting by Anna Driver; Editing by Bernard Orr and Andre Grenon