(Reuters) - A federal appeals court on Monday said Comcast Corp’s (CMCSA.O) Golf Channel need not repay $5.9 million it had received from convicted swindler Allen Stanford in exchange for services aimed at furthering his multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans said the payment was not fraudulent because reasonable creditors would have deemed the network’s sponsorship of the men’s Stanford St Jude Championship in Memphis, Tennessee, to have had sufficient “value.”
Ralph Janvey, a court-appointed receiver for Stanford’s companies, had argued that the sponsorship, in which Golf Channel aired hundreds of commercials for Stanford, had no real value because they furthered the Ponzi scheme.
But the appeals court disagreed, saying that Golf Channel could have sold the air time to another buyer at market rates.
The appeals court had ruled for Janvey in March 2015, but later threw its ruling out so the Texas Supreme Court could explain what “value” meant under a state law governing fraudulent transactions.
Monday’s decision restored a November 2013 ruling for Golf Channel by a lower court judge.
Janvey is trying to recoup as much money as possible for Stanford’s victims. A lawyer for Janvey had no immediate comment.
Stanford was convicted in March 2012 for running what prosecutors called a $7.2 billion Ponzi scheme centered on fraudulent certificates of deposit from his Antigua-based bank. He is serving a 110-year prison term.
The case is Janvey v. Golf Channel Inc, 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 13-11305.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Phil Berlowitz