Antiguan staff of the auditor of Stanford International Bank,the institution
at the centre of an $8bn (£5.6bn) fraud investigation have said they do not know
where the owner of the firm is.
A staff member at its Antiguan division of CAS Hewlett confirmed the company
was run by Celia Hewlett, who took over after her father Charlesworth ‘Shelly’
Hewlett passed away last month, but he said her whereabouts were unknown.
‘She has not been here for about the last two weeks,’ he told Accountancy
He added that he did not know when she was expected back, but confirmed that
the firm was still the auditor for SIB and they had not so far come under the
SEC’s spotlight. ‘The SEC has not been in contact.’
Allen Stanford, the cricket-loving billionaire owner of SIB has been charged
by the SEC with perpetrating the massive fraud, linked to high-interest
investments known as Certificates of Deposit.
CAS is a small firm with offices in London and one in Antigua where SIB is
CAS gave SIB an unqualified audit opinion in signing off its most recent
annual report last April.
CDs are thought of as one of the safest types of investment vehicles.
The investments pay interest on money in a similar way to a savings account,
but the returns are typically higher with a CD.
In a statement the SEC said: ‘The defendants have misrepresented to CD
purchasers that their deposits are safe, falsely claiming that the bank
re-invests client funds primarily in ‘liquid’ financial instruments (the
portfolio); monitors the portfolio through a team of 20-plus analysts; and is
subject to yearly audits by Antiguan regulators.’
The SEC also charged SIB chief financial officer James Davis, Stanford’s
college room-mate, in the enforcement action.
The SEC has been granted a temporary restraining order which froze the
defendants’ assets, and appointed a receiver to marshal those assets.
‘As we allege in our complaint, Stanford and the close circle of family and
friends with whom he runs his businesses perpetrated a massive fraud based on
false promises and fabricated historical return data to prey on investors,’ said
Linda Chatman Thomsen, director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.
‘We are moving quickly and decisively in this enforcement action to stop this
fraudulent conduct and preserve assets for investors.’
On its website CAS said: ‘Antigua and Barbuda is a well established and
sophisticated offshore financial centre. CAS Hewlett & Co. is there to
assist you as an existing or potential offshore investor.
‘Our portfolio of clients in the offshore financial sector – past and present
– includes banks, insurance companies and various other financial institutions
‘Marking over 35 years in existence, CAS Hewlett & Co.’s pool of
consultants is vastly experienced. Our firm’s repute is derived from the high
standards we demand of ourselves.’
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