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'Ponzi' Fraudster Stanford Facing 230 Years

(c) Sky News 2012

In June 2008, Sir Allen Stanford landed his helicopter on the turf at Lord's with a box full of cash and the world seemingly at his feet.

Almost four years to the day he will sit in court in Texas facing the prospect of a 230-year jail sentence.

Prosecutors have described the tycoon as a "ruthless predator" whose $7bn (£4.5bn) "Ponzi" scheme was among the biggest frauds ever undertaken.

It is a world away from the moment Stanford announced his arrival on the international stage by bankrolling a multi-million pound Twenty20 challenge between England and the West Indies.

Once named the 605th richest person in the world, Stanford was convicted in March of orchestrating a 20-year scheme that took in billions through the sale of bogus certificates of deposit from his Caribbean bank.

Thousands of victims are still trying to get their money back and the jury at his trial decided that federal authorities should try to seize $330m (£213m) in frozen funds that Stanford stashed in 29 foreign bank accounts.

His lawyers are seeking a prison term of 31 to 44 months, which could result in his immediate release because he has already been in custody for three years.

But, in a filing to the US District Court in Houston, prosecutors said: "Robert Allen Stanford is a ruthless predator responsible for one of the most egregious frauds in history.

"The sheer magnitude of the money stolen, the duration of the crime, and the extent to which Stanford lived a life steeped in deceit are almost unrivalled."

They dismissed calls for leniency, saying that Stanford's request reflected "an audacity that only further illustrates his depravity".

A maximum sentence for Stanford would be 80 years longer than Bernard Madoff got in 2009 for his Ponzi scheme and according to prosecutors reflects Stanford's place as "among the greediest, most selfish, and utterly remorseless criminals".

Stanford, a dual American and Antiguan citizen, was stripped of the knighthood he was awarded by Antigua's governor general in 2006.

His trial also laid bare the 6ft 5in tycoon's complex private life.

His sentencing will not bring to an end his legal responsibilities - he also faces civil charges by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.