UK authorities freeze Stanford assets

David Hellier
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THE UK prosecuting authorities yesterday froze $100m (&pound;60.2m) linked to the alleged financial fraudster Allen Stanford within five hours of a request from the US Department of Justice, officials stated yesterday.<br /><br />Stanford spent Monday night in a Texas jail after prosecutors told a federal judge he would likely flee the country rather than face life in prison if released on bail.<br /><br />The once high-flying billionaire and sports promoter, who faces life in prison if convicted of all 21 criminal charges against him in relation to a $7bn Ponzi scheme, last week pleaded not guilty.<br /><br />London&rsquo;s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said yesterday it had obtained a restraining order on assets believed to be held by financial institutions in London on 7 April.<br /><br />&ldquo;These funds were allegedly acquired in connection with a suspected $7bn investment fraud scheme operated by Stanford,&rdquo; the SFO said in a statement.<br /><br />The SFO said it felt able to release details of action taken by British authorities because Stanford had now been taken into FBI custody as part of a criminal investigation.<br /><br />SFO director Richard Alderman said he was determined such cross-border support for US authorities became routine.<br /><br />The watchdog said it had recently reviewed procedures related to the freezing of assets believed to be the proceeds of crime and that it was earmarking dedicated resources.<br /><br />&ldquo;The organisation aims to increase the volume of assets restrained, confiscated, recovered and &ndash; in the future &ndash; forfeited,&rdquo; the SFO said. <br /><br />In his heyday Stanford dazzled the UK&rsquo;s cricketing authorities with his ideas for jazzing up the game and he courted the authorities with cash. &ensp;