Ex-Stanford employees testify in trial's Day 3

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

Prosecutors claim R. Allen Stanford started his offshore bank with a shell company he set up in the United Kingdom.

Assistant U.S. Attorney William Stellmach made that claim Wednesday while questioning Michelle Chambliess during the third day of Stanford’s trial in federal court in Houston, Texas, where he later based his financial empire.

Chambliess said Stanford used her securities license to open the first Stanford Group Co. office to sell certificates of deposit for his offshore bank.

Stanford, 61, went on trial Monday accused of 14 federal charges centered on a $7.2 billion Ponzi scheme allegedly perpetrated on certificate of deposit investors through his Stanford International Bank Ltd., originally called Guardian Bank.

Another witness, Leo Mejia, said he was hired to be president of Stanford’s Idea advertising company.

On trip to take photos of Guardian Bank in Montserrat, he said he visited the bank and was puzzled with only a few people working there and unplugged computers.

But on cross-examination, he failed to recognize a photo of that bank and admitted he lied about his education.

Earlier in the day, Stanford’s attorneys bogged down the prosecution’s timing with repeated objections to exhibits.

At the trial’s start Monday, U.S. District Judge gave each side 65 hours to present their cases and keeps up with it using a chess timer.

Prosecutors complained that the objections were a defense tactic to waste their allotted time.

Among the government’s list of 400 exhibits are Stanford’s address/phone book, a promissory note for $114 million and a payment schedule on a yacht.

• Read more details in Thursday’s Daily Journal or come back here for more trial news.