By JUAN A. LOZANO, Associated Press – 1 hour ago
HOUSTON (AP) — Texas financier R. Allen Stanford built a vast fortune through his network of banks and other businesses in the U.S., Latin America the Caribbean, and he led a lifestyle befitting a billionaire business magnate.
Once considered one of the U.S.'s wealthiest people, with an estimated net worth of more than $2 billion, Stanford snatched up luxury homes and cars, private jets and yachts, and became so prominent in his adopted country of Antigua, where he took on dual citizenship, that he was knighted by the Caribbean island's government and became known as "Sir Allen."
On Tuesday, after much delay, federal prosecutors in Houston were due to begin laying out their case against Stanford, telling jurors that the 61-year-old's business empire was built on smoke and mirrors and that he bilked investors out of more than $7 billion over 20 years as part of a massive Ponzi scheme. Jury selection in Stanford's trial was to conclude Tuesday, after starting a day earlier, with opening statements expected later in the day
Stanford, who denies the claims and says his businesses were legitimate, is charged with 14 counts, including wire and mail fraud, and faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. He is expected to testify during the trial, which will likely last at least six weeks.