By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
HOUSTON, Texas – R. Allen Stanford’s testimony could begin today, courtroom observers speculated late Thursday.
Stanford, 61, is on trial on 14 federal counts that he led a $7.2 billion Ponzi scheme on investors in certificates of deposit through his Stanford International Bank Ltd. in Antigua.
Before the trial began Jan. 24, his defense team hinted that he might testify, but as time went on, legal experts predicted he would not because he would expose himself to undue risks under cross-examination by government prosecutors.
On Thursday, prosecutors complained that the defense was moving slowly with its witnesses so that if Stanford were to take the stand, it would be today.
Attorneys are unavailable to comment because of a judge’s ban on them speaking to the public.
Defense witness forensic accountant Morris Hollander said Thursday he saw evidence that in 2007-2008 Stanford companies were consolidating and making moves to relocate in the Virgin Islands for tax purposes.
Stanford’s lawyers insist that he was working to save his financial empire, but it collapsed in 2009 because a government agency froze its assets.
Earlier in the trial, former Stanford Chief Financial Officer James Davis and other government witnesses testified that the consolidation plan was only a plan and never approved or implemented.
Stanford, four company executives and a former Antiguan bank regulator were indicted in the alleged fraud scheme.
Hollander said the bank’s loans to Stanford were more like transfers because they went into Stanford companies.
The government accuses Stanford of not reporting his loans to CD investors, who reportedly were told their money was invested conservatively in stocks and other regulated securities.
Earlier in the day, The Chronicle reported Hollander admitted he hadn’t seen any working papers used by auditors who checked finances at SIBL or Stanford Group Co.
He said he believed SIBL was reporting as it should under international accounting standards it adopted in 1998.
Under those rules, he testified, shareholders do not have to report loans to depositors.
He also said the $4.6 million paid to Antiguan auditor CAS Hewlett was not “an extravagant amount” and that Stanford’s $2 billion loans from the bank were the type of transactions he’d seen used to avoid income taxes.