Investors in Allen Stanford's $7 billion Ponzi scheme, who have recovered nothing in the four years since it blew up, could finally get some money back under a $300 million multi-national settlement in the case.
For years, investors, attorneys and regulators have been wrangling over Stanford assets frozen in Canada, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The complex settlement, still subject to court approval in five countries, would clear the way for most of the $300 million to be distributed to investors later this year.
The agreement was announced Tuesday by the court-appointed receiver in the U.S. and by liquidators appointed by the court in Antigua, where Stanford's offshore bank was based. The U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are also part of the settlement.
"The Settlement Agreement is a product of the parties' common goal of optimizing and enlarging the overall recovery for creditor-victims as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. The parties to the Agreement all believe that the Agreement is in the best interests of the victims of the Stanford fraud," the receiver and liquidators said in a joint statement.
(Read More: Allen Stanford Investors Face Long Haul to Recover Money .)
According to the statement, the agreement ensures the money will go to victims-not to the IRS or the Antiguan government.
The agreement, while significant, would still leave Stanford's 28,000 investors with devastating losses. Since the Securities and Exchange Commission shut down Stanford's financial empire in February, 2009, none of the $7 billion in Stanford assets has been returned to investors.
Last year, the U.S. receiver asked for court approval to distribute some $55 million, and is still awaiting court approval. The new settlement would be on top of that. Another $700 million is still tied up in litigation.
(Read More: Allen Stanford Investors Could Get (Tiny) Payout )
Authorities said Allen Stanford skimmed most of the investors' money to fund his lavish lifestyle. Stanford, who is serving a 110-year sentence at a federal penitentiary in Florida, is appealing his conviction last year on 13 criminal counts.
-By CNBC's Scott Cohn; Follow him on Twitter @ScottCohnCNBC