According to the SEC press release, it has acted with lightning speed:
Said Linda Chatman Thomsen, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement: "We are moving quickly and decisively in this enforcement action to stop this fraudulent conduct and preserve assets for investors."
But most reports have the SEC investigating Stanford for many months, while according to Matt Goldstein of BusinessWeek, "people familiar with the probes say the SEC investigation goes back at least three years and possibly longer".
It’s quite clear that if the SEC had nipped this fraud three years ago, an enormous amount of damage would have been avoided. So is the SEC "moving quickly and decisively", or is it actually acting very slowly indeed?
It’s also worth asking whether it’s purest coincidence that the SEC action comes exactly one week after questions about Stanford started being raised in the media (a/k/a my blog). They slowly investigate for months if not years, and then the minute the story hits the press they’re suddenly ready to go to court? Weird. After all, my blog entry just piggybacked on analysis performed by Alex Dalmady back in October — analysis which he only got around to writing up in January.
I’m certainly glad that the SEC has moved decisively in this case, and didn’t wait for Stanford to give himself up, a la Madoff. But there’s really no indication that the SEC has moved quickly.
Update: Goldstein now puts the duration of the SEC investigation at "about two years".