By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
Follow Patsy R. Brumfield’s reporting from Houston on DJournal.com or her Twitter posts @REALNEWSQUEEN.
HOUSTON, Texas – Allen Stanford looked like a man ready for a fight, as he stood for a government witness to identify him in court.
The former billionaire chief of Stanford Financial Group faces 14 charges that he operated a $7.2 billion Ponzi scheme on investors.
He insists his right-hand man, James M. Davis, was the bad guy whose false reporting brought on a federal investigation and the ruination of his international company.
Monday was Day 6 for the trial expected to last 6-8 weeks in Houston, where Stanford built his fortune and headquartered his empire.
Most of the courthouse action focused on former Memphis SFG investment analyst, Mark Collinsworth, called to tell the 15-member jury about the Stanford CD sales operation and financial reporting.
But for most of the day, he bolstered the defense’s case that Davis and Baldwyn native Laura Pendergest-Holt, SFG’s chief investment officer, told Stanford what he wanted to hear.
He claimed they tried to make him change numbers to show better investment figures requested by Stanford.
He also mused about Davis and Holt’s hiring of cronies and relatives – Davis’ nephew, his preacher, a farm hand, an inexperienced college grad, a girl who spoke Russian – without any financial world expertise.
He even chuckled when he said the man hired as the company’s strategic investment officer, with whom he said then-Pendergest had an affair, was fired when he got married.
Later in the day, Antiguan bank regulator Althea Crick told her own war stories about repeated run-ins with Stanford, whom she said tried to bribe her with first-class plane tickets to a U.K. seminar.
She brought further ire upon herself, she said, when she blocked Stanford’s membership on a government bank commission.
“It was like, as we say, the rat guarding the cheese.” Crick observed.
Today, Crick continues on the stand.
At this stage, the government’s main case may hinge on Davis’ testimony later this week.