February 19, 2009 / 11:40 PM / 10 years ago

Mexico regulator probing Stanford unit

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico’s banking regulator is investigating a local Stanford bank unit for possible violation of banking laws, an official at the financial industry watchdog said on Thursday.

The CNBV regulator is looking into whether Mexican unit Stanford Fondos broke laws on investing abroad, Carlos Lopez-Moctezuma, a senior official told Reuters.

Mexican financial laws forbid Mexican banks to encourage clients to invest in unauthorized certificates of deposits abroad.

“If we had evidence of that happening, (the regulator) would act immediately,” Lopez-Moctezuma told Reuters. “We are getting information of our own. What is important is that people look at their contracts as we need proof,” he said.

People have scrambled to get back their money from firms linked to Texas billionaire Allen Stanford, as fallout from U.S. fraud charges against him spread from the United States and the Caribbean to Latin America and Europe.

Mexico’s attorney general’s office said on Thursday it had not seized a private plane registered to the billionaire after media reported an aircraft belonging to him was detained in a U.S. drug money laundering probe.

Citing unnamed U.S. officials, ABC News earlier reported that Mexican authorities had detained one of Stanford’s private planes, finding checks inside allegedly connected to the Gulf cartel, Mexico’s most violent drug gang.

There is no criminal investigation in Mexico into Stanford, said Octavio Campos, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office. Stanford was found by the FBI in Virginia and served with court papers accusing him of an $8 billion fraud,

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Stanford and two Stanford Group Co executives with an $8 billion fraud, saying they sold certificates of deposit that offered impossibly high returns.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and others have been investigating whether the billionaire was involved in laundering drug money for Mexico’s infamous Gulf cartel, ABC News reported on Wednesday, citing federal authorities.

Additional reporting by Mica Rosenberg; Editing by Diane Craft

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