The tussle over the assets of the companies linked to Sir Allen Stanford took another turn this week as the receiver appointed by Antigua sought formally to challenge the jurisdiction of his US counterpart.
Antigua and the US have appointed separate receivers to administer the affairs of the Stanford group of companies, which have operations across the US, Latin America and the Caribbean. Stanford International Bank, which is at the heart of an alleged $8bn Ponzi scheme, is based in Antigua.
In court documents filed late on Monday, Nigel Hamilton Smith, the receiver appointed by the Antiguan government, asked a Texas judge to rescind some of the authority initially bestowed on the US-appointed receiver, Ralph Janvey.
After US regulators in February accused the Texan businessman of operating a “massive Ponzi scheme”, a Dallas court granted Mr Janvey sole authority over the assets of the far-reaching Stanford empire.
But in the days that followed the accusations by the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the Antiguan government appointed a receiver of its own.
The subsequent relationship between the receivers – and indeed, between officials in the US and Antigua – has been characterised by a distinct lack of agreement over authority and jurisdiction.
Mr Hamilton-Smith had previously and repeatedly asserted that Mr Janvey’s authority “stopped at the US border” but this is the first challenge to have made it to court.
In the filing on Monday, Mr Hamilton-Smith described Mr Janvey as “initially giving lip service to the concept of co-operation”, and said the US receiver had “by and large refused to co-operate”.
Mr Janvey had “actively sought to prevent [the Antiguan receiver] from gaining access to SIB [Stanford International Bank],” Mr Hamilton-Smith claimed in the filing. Mr Hamilton-Smith is acting as a liquidator for SIB, following a court ruling in Antigua last week.
Subsequent to the court ruling, Mr Janvey said he intended to contest any efforts by his Antigua-based counterpart “to seek to recover assets that would be distributed only through the Antiguan proceedings”.
Andrew Behrman, an attorney at Lovells in New York and a specialist in complex international litigation, said the dispute was likely to hurt the creditors of the Stanford companies.
“To the extent that the receivers continue to be antagonistic and believe their counterparties have overstepped their authority – resulting in disputes between them as to who has jurisdiction over what assets – the people most likely to be disadvantaged are the creditors,” he said.
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