By The Associated Press
HOUSTON — Attempts to cover up a massive Ponzi scheme alleged to have taken billions from depositors at Texas tycoon R. Allen Stanford’s Caribbean bank grew increasingly frantic as federal authorities closed in on the fraud, the financier’s top money man testified Monday.
Ultimately, all of the efforts to hide the more than 20-year fraud were futile, James M. Davis, the former chief financial officer for Stanford’s companies, told jurors during his third day of questioning by prosecutors in Stanford’s fraud trial.
“The writing was on the wall,” said Davis, who has pleaded guilty in the case.
Prosecutors claim Stanford bilked investors out of more than $7 billion in a massive Ponzi scheme centered on the sales of certificates of deposit, or CDs, from the bank on the island nation of Antigua. Stanford’s attorneys contend the financier was a savvy businessman whose financial empire, headquartered in Houston, was legitimate. They have suggested Davis, who worked 21 years for Stanford, is behind the fraud.
Davis, 63, the prosecution’s star witness who began testifying last week, told jurors Monday that by 2007, he wanted to quit working for Stanford, unable to handle the stress.
“The fraud that I was participating in was killing me,” he said.
Davis said Stanford initially ignored his request to step down. He said they later came to an agreement for Davis to quit by the end of 2009, but by that time, authorities had stepped in.