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Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. Subject Matter Jurisdiction. Fifth Circuit determines Antigua not subject to U.S. court jurisdiction under Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act in Stanford Ponzi scheme cases.

Antigua, USA March 27 2017
 Frank v. Commonwealth of Antigua and Barbuda, No. 15-10717, consolidated with The Official Stanford Investors Committee v. Antigua and Barbuda, No. 15-10788 (5th Cir. Nov. 22, 2016) [click for opinion]

The Commonwealth of Antigua and Barbuda ("Antigua") successfully appealed a district court ruling that under certain exceptions to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (the "FSIA"), Antigua was subject to suit relating to its alleged involvement in the Stanford Ponzi scheme. Finding that the commercial activity exception to sovereign immunity was not satisfied and that the waiver exception applied only to claims for which jurisdiction was conceded by Antigua, the Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's determination that it had jurisdiction over certain claims against Antigua, a foreign nation, and remanded for further proceedings.

The plaintiffs in two putative class actions filed suit alleging Antigua was involved and complicit in the Ponzi scheme perpetrated by Allen Stanford. Stanford owned and operated numerous financial entities, including an offshore bank in Antigua, which he used in his scheme to defraud investors. Plaintiffs alleged that Antigua actively and willingly participated in Stanford's scheme and knowingly provided Stanford and his businesses a safe harbor from regulatory scrutiny. They asserted that Stanford and Antigua had a quid pro quo relationship in which Stanford paid incentives and bribes and made loans to Antigua and its public officials to ensure that he and his organizations were deemed compliant with relevant local regulations. The two putative class actions were consolidated for appeal solely to address whether, under the FSIA, Antigua is subject to the jurisdiction of U.S. courts............

To view the full ruling and a copy of the Fifth Circuit’s judgment and, click Here.

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