R. Allen Stanford’s fate in hands of jury

Stanford

Editor’s Note: For readers interested in following the trial of former Texan financier Allen Stanford, Dominica News Online is reproducing some of the coverage the case is receiving in the US:

R. Allen Stanford’s fate in hands of jury
by Doug Miller / KHOU 11 News

HOUSTON — “Is it okay to lie?”

With those words, federal prosecutors began their closing arguments against R. Allen Stanford, the disgraced Houston financier accused of cheating investors out of billions of dollars in what the government called “one of the greatest thefts in history.”

After more than a month of testimony, attorneys for both sides spent Wednesday summarizing their arguments in Houston’s biggest white-collar fraud trial since Enron.

The case went to the jury late Wednesday afternoon.

Prosecutors accuse Stanford of siphoning $160-million into a Swiss bank for his personal use.

But beyond that, they argue he also invested more than $2-billion in his own business ventures – everything from yachts and jets to an exclusive resort – and misled investors by telling them their money was deposited in safe government securities.

“For him, the bank was his own personal ATM,” Assistant U.S. Attorney William Stellnach told the jury.

Stanford, sitting silently at the defense table, shook his head during much of the prosecution’s closing argument.

Defense attorneys urged jurors to ignore the prosecutors’ emphasis on yachts and private jets and pay attention to the evidence in the case.

“There is no evidence that Mr. Stanford cheated anyone,” defense attorney Ali Fazel told jurors.  “It’s not there.”

Stanford stands accused of orchestrating an international Ponzi scheme that cost investors more than $7-billion.

His financial empire attracted customers with high-interest certificates of deposit paying about 4 percent more than standard U.S. banks.

Stanford promised customers their money would be parked in conservative investments.

“But the truth is that he flushed it away on a bunch of failing businesses, yachts and cricket clubs,” Stellnacht told the jury.

Prosecutors say Stanford diverted billions into his own companies and bankrolled the lavish lifestyle of a global financier.

The fourteen count indictment also alleges he misled investors with falsified financial data, blocked an investigation by U.S. securities regulators and dodged oversight by bribing auditors and banking regulators in Antigua.

“The rat was watching the cheese,” Stellnacht told jurors, echoing the words of an Antiguan bank regulator who testified Stanford used his influence to have her fired.
Jurors have sat through more than a month of often tedious testimony outlining the arcane details of Stanford’s investments.

They’ve heard from not only investors who’ve lost their money, but also the company’s chief financial officer, James Davis, who cut a deal with prosecutors in exchange for damaging testimony against Stanford.

“The key witness in their case is one of the biggest liars you ever heard about or read about,” said Robert Scardino, one of Stanford’s lawyers.

His attorneys argue that Stanford paid off all of his CD customers until an SEC investigation destroyed his ability to pay off investors.

“He never failed to repay depositors,” Fazel argued.

Prosecutors have tried to simplify the case with colorful charts and graphs, painting a picture of a banking and investment empire that was actually a multi-billion dollar sham plundered by Stanford.

For $2-billion, Stellnacht told the jury, “You could build Reliant Stadium and field the Texans and have enough to buy the Rockets, too.”

Defense attorneys spent most of a day picking apart the government’s exhibits and decrying them as deceptive.

Even though his attorney told the jury he would testify, Stanford decided against taking the stand.

Friends said Stanford had been eager to testify, but his attorneys advised against it.

The instructions read by U.S. District Judge David Hittner specifically told jurors they’re not allowed to hold that against Stanford.

“For more than twenty years, Mr. Stanford was able to con people out of their hard earned dollars.” Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregg Costa told jurors.  “Don’t let him pull one last con job.”

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11 Comments

  1. March 4, 2012

    If Stanford ‘never failed to pay back a customer’ until ‘his ability to do so was destrtoyed’ by the investigators, is his crime buying yachts etc. with his own profits for his use

  2. Dimitri
    March 3, 2012

    There you go;

    “There is no evidence that Mr. Stanford cheated anyone,” defense attorney Ali Fazel told jurors. “It’s not there.”

    “Even though his attorney told the jury he would testify, Stanford decided against taking the stand.
    Friends said Stanford had been eager to testify, but his attorneys advised against it.”

    JURY RETURNED NOT GUILTY VERDICT

    Just like Casey Anthony who was accused of murdering her daughter…”JUDGE BELVIN PERRY, FLORIDA CIRCUIT COURT: Is it your decision not to testify, based upon consultation with your counsels?
    CASEY ANTHONY: Yes, sir.

    “ENNIFER BARRINGER, CONSULTANT TO ANTHONY DEFENSE: You know, I think Jose said that at beginning. Frankly, I’m confounded at the amount of people who thought she would actually testify. As you know, it’s very rare in a criminal case to begin with, and certainly with this client. I mean, Casey is — you know, is a liar. And I think Jose bought a lot of credibility by coming out and even saying that in his opening. And basically, there’s no up side. You know, you can imagine the jury is not going to believe a word that she says.”

    JURY RETURNED NOT GUILTY VERDICT

    Does that ring a bell anyone…? Lets see if this one walks away too!!

    It’s not what you know; IT’S WHAT YOU CAN PROVE IN COURT!!

  3. plawey
    March 2, 2012

    caribbean people too ungrateful all you doh remember if it wasnt for stanford none of our cricketers would touch thousand of dollars for their talent they were being paid more than any football player for one game some one thought it was a bad idea for stanford to take their hard earn cash and give it to the poor black people in the caribbean mr stanford am praying for you and your family no matter what the out come is i will continue to believe in you cause you really made us lift up our heads no one has ever done that for us they are a wicked set of people hold your head up mr stanford cause what has been locked up will be freed in jesus name

  4. March 2, 2012

    America Authority is more serious than that stupid system we have in Dominica. Reasons why those politicians and those in positions of trust can continue to manipulate our system and do what they want and when they want. Don’t worry one one full the basket. Now its over filled what are we gonna do? Time will tell.

    • March 4, 2012

      u dnt knw wat u talkin about. America government is the most crupt in the world. I am Aerican

  5. Copycat
    March 2, 2012

    Even a blind man could have seen that Sanford was a bleeding con man…from a mile away. Shame on all of those money grabbers who got sucked up my his dirty money and fake charm. Lessons for some whom we now adore.

  6. why
    March 2, 2012

    Why all u like to call Skerrit name in all u business. Live skerrit alone.

    • Native
      March 2, 2012

      Why; you should learn to spell at least before you decide to defend the indefensible. TIME!!!

  7. Look It
    March 2, 2012

    Mr. Skerrit and his many blind supports, please take note!

    • betty
      March 2, 2012

      I HOPE THEY TAKING NOTE

  8. Bold and Beautiful
    March 2, 2012

    99 days for the thief and one day for the catch.
    He should know when you lie it will catch up one day.

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