By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
Jury deliberations continued Thursday in Houston, Texas, for two former Stanford accountants accused of lying to protect a $7.2 billion Ponzi scheme on investors.
Closing arguments were completed Wednesday morning and the jury began its work at mid-day.
Prosecutors asked the jury not to believe claims by Stanford Financial Group’s ex-chief accounting officer Gil Lopez, 70, and former global controller Mark Kuhrt, 40, that their boss, Allen Stanford, and his finance chief, James Davis, duped them, too, into creating false financial statements about fraudument certificates of deposit for Antigua-based Stanford International Bank Ltd.
If convicted, they face more than 20 years in prison.
The men went on trial Oct. 17. Closing arguments began Wednesday and the jury began deliberations by late morning.
Stanford, 62, was convicted last March of masterminding the fraud scheme and is serving a 110-year sentence at a federal prison in Florida. He is appealing the verdict and his sentence.
Bloomberg reports that prosecutors told jurors that Lopez and Kuhrt meticulously tracked about $2 billion Stanford “sucked out” of the bank to fund risky private ventures including Caribbean airlines, resort developments and international cricket tournaments. The accountants didn’t disclose these loans or additional funds that Stanford took to underwrite a lavish personal lifestyle of private jets, yachts and waterfront mansions, the government said.
Lopez, Kuhrt and Davis testified during the four-week trial. Davis pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme in 2009, testified against Stanford at his trial and is awaiting sentencing.
Davis once lived in Union County and often worked out of Stanford offices in Tupelo and Memphis.
Lawyers for Lopez and Kuhrt told the jury their clients relied on investment returns provided by Stanford and Davis and never intended to create false financial records or break any laws. The accountants also lobbied Davis to disclose Stanford’s borrowings to investors and were overruled, they said.