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Securities Fraud Lawyer Mark Werbner in the Dallas Business Journal

Dallas area is battleground in Stanford case

Dallas Business Journal

 

Dallas attorneys and financial professionals are set to play a number of lead roles in unwinding the $9.2 billion Stanford Financial Group.

 

Houston-based Stanford has been described as a billion-dollar Ponzi scheme by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The SEC’s Fort Worth office forced the Stanford companies into receivership in mid-February.

The whole matter now is moving forward before federal Judge David Godbey at the Earle Cabell Federal Building in downtown Dallas.

That’s where a capacity crowd of attorneys and onlookers convened for the first court hearing March 2 on the Stanford group matter.

Most of the attorneys there represented Stanford clients whose funds had been frozen by the court and had been possibly misappropriated by Stanford, its founder Allen Stanford and executives of the Stanford company.

“It was a who’s who of the Dallas Bar,” said Mark Werbner, a partner in the firm Sayles & Werbner. “All the major trial lawyers were there.”

Werbner represents a group of Stanford investors from Mississippi and says he’s been receiving calls every day.

Dallas attorney Larry Friedman was among the first to intervene in the case on the behalf of Stanford investors.

“When I filed that first intervention, my name spread like wildfire,” he said. “These are people who are frantic.”

The smallest Stanford investors — people with less than $100,000 in custodial accounts — could begin seeing their funds thawed in the next two weeks, provided there’s no evidence of impropriety with their accounts.

Ralph Janvey, the court-appointed receiver in the case, is scheduled to deliver a preliminary report on his efforts to find investors’ money with Stanford’s international network of at least 175 entities.

Janvey, a Dallas attorney, has hired many professionals, including lawyers from Dallas-based Thompson & Knight LLP and Washington, D.C.-based Patton Boggs LLP.

Attorneys and others familiar with Janvey called him a thoughtful and capable attorney.

“He’s an exteremely intelligent guy, and he’s the right guy for this job,” Friedman said.

Defending Stanford

Two of the three individual defendants in the Stanford case have hired Dallas attorneys to represent them.

Laura Pendergest-Holt, the chief investment officer of Stanford Financial Group, has hired Jeffrey Tillotson of Lynn Tilltoson & Pinker to represent her.

And Allen Stanford turned to Dallas attorney Chuck Meadows to argue for more time before the court moves forward.

Meadows, a partner at Meadows, Collier, Reed, Cousins & Blau LLP, said he “has no idea” why Stanford tapped him, but that he hopes to represent Stanford further.

The receivership and the SEC’s claims against Stanford, Pendergest-Holt and Stanford Financial Chief Financial Officer James M. Davis are likely to take years.

 

But early indications are there may be limited funds for Stanford investors and their attorneys to fight for.

“The first question and only question we’d ask ourselves — ‘Is there something we can do to help some people who have been wronged?’ ” said Joel Fineberg, a Dallas attorney who specializes in complex commercial cases and class-action claims.

cwatt@bizjournals.com | 214-706-7123

http://www.bizjournals.com/dallas/stories/2009/03/09/story8.html

© 2009 American City Business Journals, Inc.

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