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Stanford's Antigua units seized

REGULATORS seized Texas billionaire Allen Stanford's banks and companies in Antigua and Barbuda, the Caribbean state at the center of fraud charges against him, as the financier surrendered his passport to US authorities.

Antigua's government, which in 2006 gave Stanford a knighthood, and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank announced the takeovers on Friday, after a rush by depositors this week to withdraw their funds from Stanford banking affiliates.

Stanford, 58, was charged by the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday with fraudulently selling US$8 billion in certificates of deposit with improbably high interest rates from his Stanford International Bank Ltd, headquartered in Antigua.

SEC spokesman Kevin Callahan said that Stanford and his two co-defendants, James Davis, SIB's chief financial officer, and Laura Pendergest-Holt, chief investment officer of a Stanford affiliate, had surrendered their passports in keeping with a judge's order.

Meanwhile, the court-appointed receiver overseeing the assets of Stanford's customers - Dallas lawyer Ralph Janvey - said in a statement the customer accounts were frozen until legal claims could be sorted out.

In announcing the takeover of Stanford-controlled Bank of Antigua, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank said it took the action after "an unusual and substantial withdrawal of funds ... which has the potential to create severe liquidity problems for the bank."

Earlier on Friday Antigua and Barbuda's bank regulator appointed a receiver to take control of Stanford International Bank and Stanford Trust Company.


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