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Stanford Claimed: 'Assets Are There'

POSTED: 01:30 PM ET, 02/27/2009 by Derek Kravitz

Federal authorities now say R. Allen Stanford, the Houston billionaire implicated in a $9.2 billion investment scheme, personally borrowed some $1.6 billion from his company's assets, according to court documents made public today.

It is unclear from the court documents (PDF) where the money went.

Stanford was charged last week by the Securities and Exchange Commission of running a phony investment scheme using self-styled certificates of deposit (SEC statement). If true, it could rank among the largest investment scams in history.

Stanford allegedly promised "improbable and unsubstantiated high interest rates" on the certificates of deposit he sold. His chief investment officer, Laura Pendergest-Holt, was charged yesterday by federal prosecutors with obstruction (statement) for allegedly withholding details from SEC investigators during several interviews.

Pendergest-Holt, 35, who has not been indicted, is due in court today. Her attorney, Brent R. Baker, told The Post that his client will plead not guilty and is "anxious to get all of the facts out."

The Associated Press, citing a person "familiar with the case," reported that Stanford is named in the Pendergest-Holt court filings as "Executive A." Those court documents shed some light on the pending case against Stanford:

On Feb. 4, Pendergest-Holt met with several Stanford Financial Group corporate officers at the firm's Miami office to prepare for "her upcoming testimony before SEC staff scheduled a week later."

Pendergest-Holt, who had worked at Stanford since 1997 and primarily worked in the firm's Tupelo, Miss., and Memphis, Tenn., offices, presented a PowerPoint presentation at the meeting, showing the assets in the company's "Tier III" portfolio, including the $1.6 billion loan to a "shareholder" of the Antigua-based company -- Stanford.

Three people who were present at the meeting are now cooperating witnesses, according to the court documents. One told prosecutors that he felt like he "had been kicked" when he saw the pie-chart of the company's assets and the loan to Stanford.

The next day, the group met again, this time with "Executive A," identified by news reports as Stanford. At that meeting, Stanford began "pounding on the table" and saying "the assets are there."

On Friday, Feb. 6, the group met for a final time. Court documents indicate it was a tense gathering: One person broke down crying and told the group, "If you are going to go through more information I didn't know, I don't want to be there and I'm going to the authorities."

Moments later, that same person began praying with an attorney. The attorney then entered the office of another corporate officer a short time later and declared, "The party is over." According to the court papers, he told a third officer on Sunday that the "earnings calculations were not calculated properly. The assets may or may not be there."

By Derek Kravitz |  February 27, 2009; 1:30 PM ET Hot Documents
Previous: Senate Panel to Probe CIA, Banned Firms Get U.S. Contracts, SEC Alerted on Stanford in '03 | Next: Ethics Lessons for Gregg, Telemarketers and Philly Cops

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