The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) wants investors who were scammed by R. Allen Stanford in a $7 billion fraud scheme to be treated as brokerage customers by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC). If that happens, investors would stand a chance of getting some of their money back.
The SIPC works as an insurance fund, and is backed by member brokerages. While it isn’t designed to cover investment losses, it is supposed to provide a measure of protection for investors in the event that their brokerage goes bankrupt or fails because of alleged fraud. The protection amounts up to $500,000 per customer.
In the Stanford case, the SIPC has been unwilling to pay up, even though the SEC told it to do just that more than two years ago. The SIPC, however, says the protection provided to investors does not apply to those who were bilked by Stanford because the bogus certificates of deposit they bought were sold through Stanford’s bank in Antigua, rather than being held by the brokerage.
That technicality was the subject of a March 7 congressional hearing, in which legal analysts and lawmakers offered their thoughts on the issue, along with recommendations for improving the SIPC.