By Terry Baynes
Nov 16 (Reuters) - A representative for the victims of Allen
Stanford's estimated $7 billion Ponzi scheme is suing two law
firms he says helped the now-convicted swindler perpetrate his
The court-appointed receiver, the Official Stanford
Investors Committee and individual investors sued Greenberg
Traurig and Hunton & Williams on Thursday, claiming that lawyer
Carlos Loumiet, who worked for both firms, was instrumental in
"Stanford could not have perpetrated this global mass fraud
on his own. He needed corrupt regulators in his chosen offshore
jurisdiction of Antigua, shady accountants, and skilled and
complicit lawyers to help him," the complaint said.
The lawsuit said Stanford relied on Loumiet, a Miami
international banking lawyer who was Stanford Financial Group's
outside counsel from 1988 to 2009. For the first 13 of those
years, Loumiet was a partner at Greenberg Traurig before moving
to Hunton & Williams in 2001.
Loumiet helped Stanford set up a safe haven in Antigua and
established U.S. offices that sold certificates of deposit to
Latin American investors, the complaint said. He also helped
Stanford invest his profits in Caribbean real estate, venture
capital investments and an unsuccessful movie project, it said.
"Loumiet counseled Stanford for over twenty years on how to
evade U.S. laws and regulations while still operating primarily
from U.S. soil," the suit said. He also recommended fellow
lawyer Yolanda Suarez, who went on to become the general counsel
of Stanford Financial Group. Suarez, but not Loumiet, is named
as a defendant in the suit.
A lawyer for Yolanda Suarez did not immediately respond to
requests for comment.
Loumiet said in an emailed statement that he has never
helped any client commit any wrongdoing nor represented anyone
he knew was engaged in illegal activity.
"After years of investigations by the federal government and
months of trials involving Allen Stanford and his co-defendants,
I have not been implicated in any wrongdoing," he said.
The law firms also denied having any responsibility for
Hunton & Williams called the suit "an overreach by Stanford
Financial Group's understandably frustrated investors attempting
to recoup their unfortunate losses."
Greenberg Traurig said its work for Stanford occurred prior
to 2001, three years before the sale of the CDs at the center of
"This is merely plaintiffs' newest attempt to pry open a
deep pocket," Greenberg Traurig's lawyer Jim Cowles said in an
emailed statement, noting 63 other individual lawsuits and 15
pending class action claims, including against other large law
firms and accounting firms.
Similar suits against law firms Proskauer Rose and
Chadbourne & Parke and insurance broker Willis Group Holdings
Ltd are currently on appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court. The
firms claim that the class actions brought under state law are
barred by federal securities law. They say investors should not
be able to go after deep-pocketed third parties only
tangentially related to the fraud. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals in New Orleans had allowed the cases to proceed in
A lawyer for the investors, Edward Snyder of Castillo
Snyder, said in an email that Loumiet "worked hand in hand" with
Stanford and others to design the basic architecture of the
Ponzi scheme. Snyder also represents investors in the lawsuits
against Proskauer and Chadbourne.
The latest suit alleges violations of the Texas Securities
Act and claims over $1.8 billion in losses to the investor
committee and at least $7 billion to the entire investor class,
a s well as punitive damages to be determined at trial.
Stanford was convicted in March of 13 charges including
fraud and conspiracy for selling certificates of deposit from
his bank in Antigua to thousands of investors in the United
States and Latin America. He had already spent some of those
proceeds on yachts, girlfriends, sponsorship of a cricket
tournament and other accoutrements of a high-rolling life.
Stanford was sentenced to 110 years in prison in June.
The case is Janvey et al v. Greenberg Traurig et al, U.S.
District Court, Northern District of Texas, No. 12-4641.
For the investor class: Edward Snyder and Jesse Castillo of
For the Stanford Investors Committee: Edward Valdespino of
Strasburger & Price; Peter Morgenstern of Butzel Long.
For the receiver, Ralph Janvey: Nicholas Foley and Douglas
Buncher of Neligan Foley.
For Greenberg Traurig: Jim Cowles of Cowles & Thompson.
For Loumiet and Hunton & Williams: April Otterberg and
Jeffrey Colman of Jenner & Block.
For Suarez: Not immediately available.
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