Thomas Raffanello, a former global director of security at the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., office of Stanford Financial Group (SFG), has been charged today in a three-count superseding indictment with conspiracy to obstruct a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proceeding and to destroy documents in a federal investigation; obstruction of a proceeding before the SEC; and destruction of records in a federal investigation.
The initial indictment in the case was unsealed by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on June 19, 2009, and charged Bruce Perraud, 42, of Weston, Fla., a former global security specialist at the Fort Lauderdale SFG office, with one count of destruction of records in a federal investigation. In addition to charging Raffanello, 61, of Coral Gables, Fla., today’s superseding indictment charges Perraud with an additional count of conspiracy as well as one count of obstruction of a proceeding before the SEC.
Raffanello and Perraud are scheduled to make their initial appearances at the U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale at 11 a.m. ET on Friday, Sept. 11, 2009.
According to court documents, SFG, headquartered in Houston, was the parent company of numerous affiliated financial services entities, including the Stanford International Bank Ltd. (SIBL). According to the superseding indictment, SIBL, an offshore SFG bank affiliate located in St. John’s, Antigua, allegedly lured U.S. investors to buy into its certificates of deposit (CDs) by touting high investment returns not available through domestic banks.
SIBL is alleged to have misrepresented that it held $8 billion in client funds that had been invested primarily in its CDs. The SEC filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas against SIBL and its affiliated entities on Feb. 16, 2009, in which it alleged that the SIBL CD program was the mechanism by which the principals of SIBL orchestrated a "massive, ongoing fraud." Also on Feb. 16, 2009, a receiver was appointed to assume exclusive control of all SFG-related entities in order to protect SIBL assets from potential waste and depletion by SIBL’s principals.
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas additionally issued an order instructing that all SFG and SIBL employees preserve all company documents and records, protecting them from destruction.
The indictment alleges that the receiver sent an e-mail on Feb. 17, 2009, to all SFG employees describing the contents of the court order mandating document and record preservation. It is alleged that the e-mail further instructed SFG employees that they had been ordered to preserve "any and all documents, notes and records," and that they may not "hide, destroy or alter any document or electronic record relating to the company."
According to the allegations in the superseding indictment, Perraud placed a telephone call to Raffanello on Feb. 17, 2009, in which he discussed the court order mandating the preservation of documents. Six days later, on Feb. 23, 2009, the indictment alleges Raffanello directed that the documents housed at SFG’s Fort Lauderdale office be shredded. Perraud allegedly contacted a commercial shredding company on that same day and requested that it destroy a large quantity of SFG documents at the Fort Lauderdale office, in violation of the Feb. 16 court order.
The indictment alleges that a representative of the commercial shredding company arrived at SFG’s Fort Lauderdale offices on Feb. 25, 2009, where he was met by Perraud. Perraud then allegedly supervised as a 95-gallon bin was packed with documents and was hauled to the shredder’s vehicle, where its contents were shredded. The indictment also alleges that many more documents and records were brought to the shredding truck for destruction.
In a related case, SFG corporate officers Robert Allen Stanford, Laura Pendergest-Holt, Gilberto Lopez and Mark Kuhrt, as well as Leroy King, a former Antiguan bank regulator, were each charged in an indictment unsealed on June 19, 2009, in the Southern District of Texas with conspiracy to commit mail, wire and securities fraud; wire fraud; mail fraud; and conspiracy to commit money laundering stemming from an alleged massive investment fraud scheme involving CDs held by SIBL. Stanford, Pendergest-Holt and King were also charged with conspiracy to obstruct an SEC investigation and obstruction of an SEC investigation.
In another related case, James Davis, SFG’s former chief financial officer, pleaded guilty on Aug. 27, 2009, in the Southern District of Texas to conspiracy to commit mail, wire and securities fraud; mail fraud; and conspiracy to obstruct a proceeding of the SEC. Davis was initially charged in a criminal information filed with the court on June 18, 2009.
The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Houston Field Office and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. It is being prosecuted by Fraud Section Senior Litigation Counsel Jack Patrick and Trial Attorney Matthew Klecka of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.