Texas billionaire Allen Stanford has given ABC News his first interview since being charged by the SEC with orchestrating a massive Ponzi scheme. And he doesn’t offer a sympathetic portrait.
Amid protestations of innocence — “I would die and go to hell if it’s a Ponzi scheme,” and “if it was a Ponzi scheme, why are they finding billions and billions of dollars all over the place?” — Stanford revealed he expects to be indicted by a federal grand jury in the next two weeks. (A senior official at the Justice Department told ABC News the case is “moving along rapidly.”)But several of Stanford’s expressions of self-pity will likely strike most non-billionaires as far from sympathetic:
*He lamented how the charges had deprived him of being listed by Forbes as the 405th wealthiest person in the world.
*He complained about being forced to fly commercial after the government seized his fleet of private jets. (“They make you take your shoes off and everything, it’s terrible.)
*And he reasoned: “I’m the maverick rich Texan where they can put the moose head on the wall. And that’s the only reason they went after me.” Because rich Texans always get a raw deal.
Some other choice nuggets: Asked whether he ran a scheme similar to Bernie Madoff’s, Stanford replied: “Bullsh–.That’s bullsh–. It makes me madder than hell and it touches the core of my soul.”
And asked whether he was being probed for laundering Mexican drug money, as has been reported, he responded: “If you say it to my face again, I will punch you in the mouth,” before backing down and calling the allegation “an absolutely ludicrous thing to say.” He added: “Any bank, any organization, financial organization the size we are, you cannot be sure, a hundred per cent sure that every customer you have is clean.”
ABC described near Stanford as “near tears throughout the interview.”
Late Update: ABC News has now posted the video of the interview:
Here are some more good quotes from Stanford:
– “I always lived very frugally. I flew around on a private jet. I had a boat. But I always lived very frugally. I’m not a high-fallutin guy.”
– “What people have always said about me is that I’m more in touch with the valet and the maitre d’ than I am with the president and CEO.”
– “Effing right I’m gonna fight.”
It’s also worth pointing out that the video makes clear that ABC’s Brian Ross caught up with Stanford apparently on a city street. So this wasn’t a prearranged sit-down.