Stanford Bank Panama is being sold by the SEC, reports the Latin American Herald Tribune:
The Securities and Exchange Commission announced today that approximately $14.2 million has been secured for the benefit of the worldwide victims of R. Allen Stanford's alleged multi-billion dollar fraud scheme. The Receiver expects these funds to be returned to the receivership estate by June 2010.
Does this mean that Stanford will now be a reputable bank? Not by any standard. The Panama News already reported last year that the buyer, the Weston Group, is headed by one Joseph L. Salterio. Mr. Salterio used to be the CEO of HSBC Panama and oversaw the controversial acquisition of Banistmo, a transaction for which a special law was created to exempt Banistmo shareholders - mostly members of the Panamanian oligarchy - from taxes. Writes The Panama News:
(...) if US authorities or any other interested party care to look at the HSBC acquisition of Banistmo, on top of the scandalous Torrijos administration capital gains tax break that made the deal possible there would have to be other questions about the deal and Salterio's role in it. The merger has taken much longer than anticipated to be completed. One reason is that after the deal was struck and both Salterio and his boss in London had been granted large bonuses for it, HSBC then complained that it did not receive in the transaction what it had been led to believe that it would. Panama does not use the international standards embodied in Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, but has a system of its own. It was said that the misunderstanding was based on this difference --- as if the veteran Panamanian banker Salterio would not have known about it.
That is however not the only scandal Salterio was involved in. He also became notorious for going after the assets of a former client who had dared to criticize the lousy service of HSBC Panama.
Not reported anywhere, Bananama Republic just learned that Stanford Bank Panama represents one of the 28167 claims, totaling over 40 billion euro, lodged against the failed Icelandic bank Kaupthing Bank hf. A document posted on WikiLeaks lists Stanford Bank Panama with a claim for $1,310,600 against the Icelandic fellow financial hustlers.
Why anyone would want to deposit money with any bank in Panama, a country run by crooks, with no functioning legal system, no bank secrecy, no meaningful oversight and no bank deposit insurance at all, is totally beyond us.
UPDATE: We just learned that the Salterio group was barred from buying Stanford, and that supposedly one of the Noveys heads the group that bought it.