[JURIST] A federal judge on Tuesday ordered that $21.2 million in gold coins and bullion seized last year from the offices of Allen Stanford [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] be returned to investors. Stanford is accused of defrauding investors [indictment, PDF; JURIST report] out of $7 billion. Judge David Godbey of the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas [official website] ruled that the gold must be returned to the more than 200 investors whose assets were stored in the Stanford vaults. Also Tuesday, Stanford's lawyers asked the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website] to review a lower court order denying him bail.
Last week, it was reported that the US Department of Justice [official website] has begun investigating [JURIST report] political donations and other connections between Stanford and US lawmakers. Stanford donated more than $2.3 million to lawmakers' campaigns and spent more than $5 million in lobbying efforts while allegedly carrying out the fraud. Stanford has denied the charges [JURIST report] against him and was originally set to be released on $500,000 bail until prosecutors successfully appealed the decision. Through three of his investment companies, Stanford allegedly violated the Securities Act of 1933, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the Investment Company Act of 1940 [texts]. He was originally charged [complaint, PDF; JURIST report] in February with running a fraudulent investment scheme by selling certificates of deposit on the promise of improbably high interest rates.