February 28, 2009

Stanford exec charged with obstructing SEC

The chief investment officer of Stanford Financial Group obstructed a U.S. government inquiry into a suspected pyramid fraud scheme, prosecutors say.

Laura Pendergest-Holt of Stanford Financial, based on the Caribbean island of Antigua, appeared at a bail hearing in Houston Friday, charged with failing to reveal the extent of her knowledge about where up to $5 billion of the banks' assets were when she testified before the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission this month, The New York Times reported.

The SEC says Stanford founder Robert Allen Stanford and his partners perpetrated a massive Ponzi scheme over a 10-year period in which they allegedly misappropriated funds and made more than $1.6 billion in bogus loans to Stanford, the Times reported.

Pendergest-Holt defense lawyer Dan Cogdell told reporters his client would plead not guilty when she is arraigned in Dallas, adding there was no proof that she did not cooperate with investigators.

The SEC also said it had revised its complaint against Stanford, adding a charge of giving false financial statements to investors who purchased $8 billion in certificates of deposit.