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Stanford not called to testify

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

Stanford not called to testify

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TEXAS – After weeks of testimony and cross-examinations, the defence rested its case yesterday in the multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme trial without calling on the man at the center of the allegation – Allen Stanford – to testify.
After US prosecutors said they had no rebuttal witnesses in the case that started on January 24, US District Judge David Hittner told the jury to return to the courtroom on Wednesday.
The judge said prosecution and defence lawyers will have two hours each for closing arguments on Wednesday, adding that instructions to the jury will take an hour.
“The case is over,” Hittner told the jury.
Prosecutors have accused the disgraced Texan billionaire, Stanford, of masterminding a “massive” US $7 billion Ponzi scheme involving his Antigua-based Stanford International Bank (SIB).
They charged that the Texas financier bilked tens of thousands of investors in high-yield certificates of deposit (CDs) to finance his lavish lifestyle.
Stanford, 61, while maintaining that he did not commit any wrongdoing, said his company had enough holdings to repay investors and was in the process of consolidating its entities when the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued him in February 2009 and seized his asset.
Defence lawyers also charged that Stanford’s former finance chief, James M. Davis, who was the prosecution’s key witness, was responsible for Stanford companies’ day-to-day operations.
Davis told the court that he was aware Stanford was committing fraud but did not stop him. In a plea deal with prosecutors, Davis in 2009 pleaded guilty to three felony charges.
Certified fraud examiner, Leonard H. Lyons, who was Stanford’s last defence witness, told the court that neither he nor prosecutors had a complete set of Stanford business records necessary for making a complete assessment of the financial condition of the companies when the SEC sued.
Lyons claimed that the US government records lacked documentation from Stanford businesses in Antigua, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela.
Stanford’s mother, Sammie Stanford, told reporters she had advised her son to use his discretion in determining whether to take the witness stand.
“I’ve been going through this for three years,” she said, adding “It’s never easy”.
Stanford, who is charged with 14 counts, including mail and wire fraud, could be sentenced up to 20 years in prison if convicted. (CMC)