(Updates with reports of earlier probes)
WASHINGTON Feb 18 The U.S. Federal Bureau of
Investigation and others have been investigating whether Texas
billionaire Allen Stanford was involved in laundering drug
money for Mexico Gulf cartel, ABC News reported on Wednesday,
citing federal authorities.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday
charged Stanford and two executives of Stanford Group Co with
an $8 billion fraud.
Mexican authorities detained one of Stanford's private
planes as part of the investigation, which has been ongoing
since last year, ABC reported, citing unnamed officials.
Officials said checks found inside the plane were believed
to be connected to the Gulf cartel, reputed to be Mexico's most
violent gang, ABC reported.
FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said the agency could not
confirm or deny an investigation.
ABC cited authorities as saying that Stanford could
potentially face criminal charges of money laundering and
bribery of foreign officials.
Authorities said the SEC's action against Stanford on
Tuesday may have complicated the federal drug investigation.
The SEC investigation follows earlier government probes
into Stanford's payment of federal taxes and his offshore
businesses, The Washington Post reported in Thursday editions.
The FBI and other federal agencies launched multiple
investigations into suspected money laundering at Stanford's
offshore banks in the 1990s but could not come up with evidence
to charge him, the Post reported, citing a former federal law
Industry experts say significant securities violations at
Stanford Group years before this week's SEC move were telltale
signs of deeper problems, The New York Times reported. Records
show that each time regulators ultimately let the company off
with relatively small fines, the paper said.
(Reporting by JoAnne Allen; Editing by Toni Reinhold and