Venezuela freezes Stanford Bank board’s assets

Customers queue outside the Stanford Group-owned Bank of Antigua in St. John's.
Venezuela’s government on Wednesday froze bank accounts belonging to board members of Stanford Bank Venezuela, the Venezuelan News Agency said.

The bank’s founder, Texas businessman R. Allen Stanford, has been accused by U.S. authorities of fraud involving billions of dollars through Stanford International Bank in Antigua and Barbuda. Last Thursday, the FBI announced federal agents had located Stanford in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and served him with papers accusing him and three of his companies of orchestrating a $9.2 billion investment fraud scheme. He was not taken into custody and no criminal charges were filed against him. Wednesday’s move in Caracas was ordered by District Attorney Daniel Martin acting through the Public Ministry after an investigation into the institution by the superintendent of banks, the news agency said. The eight board members whose assets were frozen are not allowed to leave the country, according to the news agency.

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Last Friday, Antiguan and Barbudan regulators took control of Stanford’s financial institutions on the twin-island nation, a day after federal agents served the with papers in Virginia. Efforts to reach Stanford or his representatives Wednesday were not successful. His company’s Web site directed the news media to the Securities and Exchange Commission, which did not immediately respond to a call and e-mail.