Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Trial Set for U.S. Financier Accused of Ponzi Scheme

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Trial Set for U.S. Financier Accused of Ponzi Scheme

Article excerpt

R. Allen Stanford's lawyers said he would testify at the trial, which is to start Monday. Mr. Stanford, 61, pleaded not guilty to a revised 14-count indictment charging him with defrauding nearly 30,000 investors.

A U.S. judge has ruled that R. Allen Stanford, the Texas financier accused of defrauding thousands of investors in a $7 billion Ponzi scheme, will go on trial next week, nearly three years after his arrest.

At the hearing Wednesday, Mr. Stanford's lawyers said he would testify at the trial, which is to start Monday, giving him an opportunity to describe how he was beaten so seriously by a fellow inmate while in custody in Texas that his memory and ability to prepare for trial were impaired.

In recent weeks, Judge David Hittner of U.S. District Court ruled against motions by Mr. Stanford's lawyers that their client was not mentally competent to stand trial and that the trial should be postponed because they had not had enough time to prepare a defense.

"My finding still remains that he is competent and ready to go," Judge Hittner said Wednesday.

Defense lawyers for Mr. Stanford argued again this week that they needed a delay in the trial. They said that they needed more time to study possible testimony from expert witnesses on accounting procedures and that one of their contract workers involved in document preparation needed cancer surgery and would be unavailable to work for at least several weeks.

Mr. Stanford, 61, pleaded not guilty to a revised 14-count indictment charging him with defrauding nearly 30,000 investors from 113 countries in a Ponzi scheme involving bogus high-interest certificates of deposit at the Stanford International Bank, which is based on the Caribbean island of Antigua.

Mr. Stanford and three other senior executives of the Stanford Financial Group are accused of lying about the growth of bank assets in investor reports, diverting more than $1.6 billion into personal loans to Mr. Stanford and engaging in wire and mail fraud and conspiracy to obstruct an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

According to prosecutors, Mr. Stanford skimmed money from investor funds to live lavishly, with mansions and yachts, essentially converting Antigua into a private playground. …

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