A jury in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas [official website] on Tuesday convicted financier Allen Stanford [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] on charges of orchestrating a $7 billion Ponzi scheme affecting investors in both the US and Latin America. Stanford was convicted on 13 of 14 charges, including conspiracy to commit wire or mail fraud, conspiracy to obstruct a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) [official website] investigation, obstruction of an SEC investigation and conspiracy to commit money laundering in addition to five counts of wire fraud and five counts of mail fraud. He was acquitted on one charge of wire fraud. Stanford faces more than 20 years in prison if the judge orders that sentences be served consecutively.
Stanford's trial began in January after a judge ruled in December that he was mentally competent [JURIST report] to stand trial. His lawyers were unsuccessful in arguing that he suffered from retrograde amnesia and diminished mental capacity as a result of head injuries sustained during a 2009 assault while in prison. Last year Stanford filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] accusing federal agents of violating his constitutional rights. The suit named 12 defendants, including members of the FBI, the SEC and the Department of Justice. Stanford alleged that the defendants used "abusive law-enforcement methods" to pursue a frivolous civil suit [JURIST report] against him in order to gather evidence for his criminal prosecution. In June 2009 Stanford pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to 21 charges of fraud, conspiracy and obstruction.