Former billionaire Allen Stanford has been sentenced to 110 years in prison for running a $7 billion Ponzi scheme. Stanford has denied running the scheme, which is believed to have been one of the largest in US history.
As he handed down the lengthy sentence on Thursday, US Judge David Hittner described the Texan tycoon's actions as "one of the most egregious frauds ever presented to a trial jury in federal court."
Stanford was found guilty in March on 13 of 14 charges for defrauding investors of more than $7 billion (5.5 billion euros) for a scheme spanning some 20 years. He was convicted on fraud and conspiracy charges for selling certificates of deposit from his bank in Antigua to 30,000 investors from more than 100 countries.
Prosecutors had asked that the former financier and cricket mogul be sentenced to 230 years in prison, the maximum sentence possible.
Calling the 62-year-old arrogant and remorseless, prosecutors said he had already spent some of the proceeds to fund a string of failed businesses, bribe regulators and pay for a lavish lifestyle that included yachts, a fleet of private jets and sponsorship of a cricket tournament.
Prosecutor William Stellmach told the judge: "This is a man utterly without remorse. He treated his victims like road kill."
Reading a 40 minute statement during Thursday's sentencing hearing, however, Stanford denied committing fraud or running a Ponzi scheme. He blamed the US government for ruining a business which he said had enough assets to repay its depositors.
"They destroyed it and turned it to nothing," he said.
"I am not a thief… I am and will always be at peace with the way I conducted myself," he added.
Stanford's attorneys had asked for a maximum sentence of 41 months. He would have already served most of that sentence, having spent the past three years in prison after being deemed a flight risk.
With a fortune of $2.2 billion, Stanford was rated by Forbes magazine as the 605th richest person in the world in 2006.
Three of his former executives are scheduled for trial in September for their involvement in the scheme, while a former Antiguan financial regulator has been indicted and awaits extradition to the US.
ccp/jlw (AFP, AP, Reuters)