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Stanford Convicted In $7 Billion Ponzi Scheme

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And in Houston, a federal jury has found financier R. Allen Stanford guilty of running a Ponzi scheme that cost investors more than $7 billion. From member station KUHF, Andrew Schneider reports.

ANDREW SCHNEIDER, BYLINE: For more than 20 years, R. Allen Stanford convinced investors that certificates of deposit in his Caribbean bank offered both a safe haven, and a slightly higher return, than CDs in U.S. banks. The truth, as revealed over a six-week trial, was that Stanford used depositors' cash to pay for dozens of money-losing business ventures. He also used it to fund a lavish lifestyle that included private yachts, and sponsorship of an international cricket tournament.

The jury found Stanford guilty on 13 of the 14 counts against him - including multiple charges of wire and mail fraud. Cassie Wilkinson, a former Stanford investor, was in the courtroom for the verdict.

CASSIE WILKINSON: It's almost like I was forgiven of a sin, because I've doubted my ability to make any sort of a decision at all related to finances. And we didn't really feel that we were such fools, but it ended up that we looked like fools.

And so many people have questioned, why would you ever do that? We've heard that so many times. And it's because we trusted the wrong people.

SCHNEIDER: Stanford's Ponzi scheme was the second largest in U.S. history, affecting tens of thousands of investors from more than 100 countries. It's not clear how much of the missing $7 billion can ever be recovered.

For NPR News, I'm Andrew Schneider in Houston. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.