Banker's ties to Congress to be probed

Dec. 27, 2009 at 8:30 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Possible ties between a banker accused of stealing billions and U.S. politicians he contributed money to are under investigation, federal officials say.

Justice Department agents say financier Allen Stanford contributed millions of dollars to lawmakers while building his offshore banking empire in Antigua, The Miami Herald reported Sunday.

Stanford is charged with fleecing investors of $7 billion in what federal prosecutors call one of the country's biggest Ponzi schemes.

Federal agents want to determine if Stanford got special favors from politicians, and are looking at the campaign contributions as well as costly Caribbean trips for politicians and their wives, complete with caviar and lobster dinners, the Herald said.

One of those receiving contributions was Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, chairman of the Republican National Congressional Committee, who met with Stanford on two Caribbean trips.

Hours after the charges against Stanford were announced in February, Sessions sent the banker an e-mail, the Herald said.

"I love you and believe in you," it said. "If you want my ear/voice -- e-mail," it ended, signed "Pete."

Sessions has not responded to interview requests, the Herald reported.

The lawmaker, who received $44,375 from Stanford, did not serve on any committees with oversight over Stanford's bank and brokerages, his supporters say.

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