TD Bank reaches $1.2 billion settlement in Ponzi scheme lawsuit
TD Bank will pay $1.2 billion to settle a lawsuit alleging its involvement in an infamous $7 billion Ponzi scheme orchestrated by disgraced financier Allen Stanford more than a decade ago.
Toronto-Dominion Bank agreed to pay $1.205 billion to a court-appointed receiver who will in turn pay back victims of the scheme but denied any wrongdoing, the bank said in a statement Monday
Stanford was sentenced to 110 years in prison in 2012 after being found guilty on 13 counts of fraud-related charges in Houston. Prosecutors charged that Stanford sold billions of dollars in fraudulent certificates of deposit administered by Stanford International Bank Ltd., an offshore bank in Antigua, ensnaring thousands of victims.
The lawsuit claimed TD Bank collected these deposits in US and Canadian dollar values and continuously ignored red flags about the Antigua-based bank over the years.
“As has been the case throughout these proceedings, TD expressly denies any liability or wrongdoing with respect to the multi-year Ponzi scheme operated by Stanford and makes no admission in connection to any Stanford matter as part of the settlement,” the Canada-based bank said in a statement.
“TD provided primarily correspondent banking services to Stanford International Bank Limited and maintains that it acted properly at all times,” the bank said.
The settlement announcement comes the same day the banks were scheduled for trial in Houston federal court, averting the trial. Additionally, HSBC will pay $40 million and Independent Bank, formerly Bank of Houston, will pay $100 million, the receivership’s counsel confirmed.
“HSBC is pleased to have resolved this claim, which relates to matters over a decade old, with no admission of any liability or wrongdoing,” the bank said in a statement.
Independent Bank did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In a securities filing, the firm denied liability or wrongdoing.
Investors alleged five banks – Trustmark
(TRMK), TD, Bank of Houston (now Independent Bank Group
(HBCYF) and Societe Generale Private Banking, or Suisse – knew or should have known about the alleged fraud perpetrated by Stanford, and that they aided and abetted the disgraced financier in the 20-year scheme.
The latest settlement brings the total recoveries amount to more than $1.6 billion.
“Given all the challenges faced by the receivership since 2009, this is nothing short of a monumental recovery,” said Kevin Sadler, lead counsel for the receiver, in a statement.
TD said it agreed to settle to “avoid the distraction and uncertainty of continuing a long legal proceeding.”
Clients of Stanford, were told that the certificates of deposit they purchased averaged a rate of return 3-4% higher than US CD’s, and that the bank made safe investments in products like stocks and bonds. But the money was actually used to fund the Texas tycoon’s lavish lifestyle, including multiple homes in the Caribbean and US.
Societe Generale reached a settlement of $157 million and Trustmark agreed to pay $100 million earlier this year.
– James O’Toole contributed to this report.