HOUSTON (Reuters) - Billionaire Texan Allen Stanford said on Monday he did not run a Ponzi scheme as U.S. regulators have charged and asserted in what may be a preview of his defense that his companies were well-run until the government seized them in February.
“If the SEC had not come in and disemboweled a living, breathing strong organization the way they did, there’s no question on God’s green earth that everyone would have been made whole and we would have had a lot of money left over,” a feisty and visibly agitated Stanford told Reuters on his first day of media interviews.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission alleges the financier, two top aides and three of his companies were involved in a $8 billion fraud involving high-yield certificates of deposit.
Stanford, who is chairman and founder of Stanford Group Co and its affiliates, said he personally did not oversee the firm’s investments.
“I didn’t oversee anything in terms of the investment portfolio. That was the CFO’s responsibility,” Stanford said, wearing the Stanford eagle pin on the lapel of his suit. “I depend on other people to do their jobs with honesty and integrity and I assume they did.”
James Davis, the company’s chief financial officer, who is also named in the SEC’s lawsuit, is cooperating with the government.
Stanford did not mention his former Baylor University roommate by name but seemed to refer to him obliquely.
“Lets just say that I may be somewhat disappointed right now with some people, in particular one person, and I‘m not going to let it go any further than that,” Stanford said when asked about Davis.
A lawyer for Davis could not immediately be reached for comment.
Also on Monday, Stanford asked a U.S. appeals court to intervene in the SEC’s civil fraud case against him, among other things challenging a lower court order freezing his assets.
Stanford says the court-ordered asset freeze Stanford left him a virtual pauper with no money to pay his legal team, which includes noted Texas criminal attorney Dick DeGuerin.
“I’ve got people that love me and care about me,” Stanford said. “I‘m not broke at all. I‘m better off than I have been in my whole life right now.”
Stanford, a flamboyant sports patron who owns jets, yachts and luxury homes in Texas, the Caribbean and Miami, does not face any criminal charges, but has said he expects to be indicted.
To focus on his defense, Stanford said he is leaving cricket patronage to others.
”I think did my part in the cricket world for the past four years and I think it’s time for someone else to take up the slack and I‘m okay with that, the financier said.
Stanford famously landed a helicopter at cricket’s Lord’s headquarters last year to launch the Stanford Super Series, which culminated last November in England playing a West Indies side in a $20 million winner-takes-all showdown in Antigua.
Stanford’s influence on English cricket and the glitzy match in Antigua had been criticized by many within the game.
English cricket severed its ties with Stanford in February after the charges were announced.
Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Andre Grenon