The SEC has filed a federal lawsuit in Dallas accusing Texas financier R. Allen Stanford of bilking 50,000 customers out of $8 billion dollars by claiming unrealistic returns. Meantime, Stanford is AWOL. The feds have raided his offices in Houston, Memphis and Tupelo, Mississippi, but they don't know where the alleged con man is right now.
Here's what we do know about Stanford: He's a billionaire financier and cricket promoter. He reportedly owes hundreds of millions of dollars in federal taxes. Records show four federal tax liens against him from 2007 and 2008.
The picture that's emerging calls to mind another accused scammer: Bernard Madoff. Granted, Stanford's alleged fraud is a fraction of Madoff's alleged Ponzi scheme. But according to some reports, American financial regulators years ago found significant securities violations at Stanford's company that some experts say were telltale signs of deeper problems. Hmm, sound familiar?
This latest alleged fraud is coming to light two months after the Madoff debacle broke. Joe Johns will tell us more about Stanford and his operations Thursday on 360°.
See you at 10 p.m. eastern.
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Tonight, we'll have the latest on Pres. Obama's $75 billion plan to help homeowners. It targets two groups: Homeowners who owe more than their home is worth, due to falling real estate values. And, those families without a paycheck and having a tough time paying their mortgage.
Pres. Obama says the plan will help up to nine million families restructure or refinance their mortgage so they can avoid foreclosure.
Some of the key parts of the rescue plan:
– Refinance loans for homeowners currently making payments, into a 15-year or 30-year loan with a fixed rate of interest.
– Encourage lenders to cooperate by offering them $1,000 for mortgages that are modified successfully
– Modify loans for those who are struggling to make payments. The goal is to bring payments to no more than 31% of a borrower's income
You can get more details on the plan HERE.
Pres. Obama stresses this plan is for only those who "played by the rules and acted responsibly."
"It will not rescue the unscrupulous or irresponsible by throwing good taxpayer money after bad loans. It will not help speculators who took risky bets on a rising market and bought homes not to live in, but to sell. It will not help dishonest lenders who acted irresponsibly, distorting the facts and dismissing the fine print at the expense of buyers who didn't know better," said Mr. Obama today.
Others aren't happy with the plan at all.
You'll hear from them tonight, as well.
Could your home join the nearly six million others in foreclosure or at-risk for foreclosure? We want to know what you think of the plan. Share your thoughts below.
And, join us at 10pm ET for this story and more.
See you then!
Editor's Note: Two days after a vicious attack by a pet chimpanzee, a woman remains in critical condition in a Connecticut hospital with severe wounds to her face. The 15-year-old chimp, named Travis, was shot to death by a police officer. The owner of the chimp says the attack was a "freak thing" and that Travis was like her son. She insists that chimpanzees make wonderful pets. Animal Planet's Dave Salmoni answers questions about the attack. You can also hear him talk about the attack tonight on AC360°.
Dave Salmoni | BIO
Animal Planet Host of "Rogue Nature: Chimps"
What could have triggered this attack?
Not being there it’s impossible to know exactly what might have triggered this attack. What we do know is that the owner of the chimp recognized that Travis the chimp was agitated. She called her friend, who was friendly with Travis, to come and help control his acting out.
From the accounts of the event it is thought that Travis wanted to go for a car ride. By not allowing Travis what he wanted, he could have seen this as a direct challenge of dominance. The two women together may have looked like a show of force to Travis, which caused an already agitated chimp to want to dominate. The friend, being the least dominant of the two, was the most likely target.
Is this common for a chimp raised as a house pet?
Chimps that are raised with all the good intentions in the world are still very dangerous. Raising a chimp in a home will always end in a negative conflict. It is very natural for a chimpanzee to hive fights for dominance, territorial raids or go out on hunting parties. This type of aggression is innate within Chimps and will be more and more prevalent in their behavior as they get older. Chimps are wild animals and can never be domesticated. They are not pets.
Roland S. Martin
President Obama earned kudos from the media when he said he screwed up in nominating Tom Daschle as secretary of Health and Human Services despite his problem with paying taxes.
Too bad the leadership of the New York Post didn't follow the lead of the president in admitting that an editorial cartoon they ran today by Sean Delonas was offensive, careless and racist.
CNN State Department Producer
When trying to explain what President Obama hopes to achieve by sending an 17,000 additional U.S. forces to Afghanistan (with more to come), senior State Department officials describe a scenario not unlike the "surge" in Iraq, explaining that part of the reason for this first initial boosting of troops (beyond the obvious reason of going after the Taliban al Qaeda and training additional Afghan forces) is to provide "political space" to the government. Officials say they hope that an improvement in the security of on the ground will provide the time and conditions needed for the Afghan government to settle its political differences and get its fledgling political system together. Fostering political reconciliation among Iraq's political and ethnic factions was one of the rationales used by President Bush in 2007 to send an additional 20,000 troops to Iraq.
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Italian prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi greets US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi during their meeting at Villa Madama in Rome February 17, 2009.
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CNN State Department Producer
The State Department will receive $602 million for the enhancement of Department facilities from from the stimulus package President Obama signed Tuedsay, the department said Wednesday. The funding includes...
* $90 million for "diplomatic and consular programs," including a Diplomatic Security training facility, consular affairs passport and training facilities
CNN Justice Producer
Switzerland's largest bank, UBS, has admitted helping U.S. taxpayers hide money from the IRS, and has agreed to pay $780 million dollars in fines and restitution, and turn over account information.
The deferred prosecution agreement was approved Wednesday by a federal court judge in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
"UBS admitted to conspiring to defraud the United States by impeding the IRS," the Justice Department announced late Wednesday.