Billions Missing From Stanford Funds

It is a bleak outlook for the victims of the alleged fraud.

February 19, 2009, 4:36 PM

Feb. 27, 2009— -- The official overseeing what's left of "Sir" R. Allen Stanford's financial empire has found only scraps of the $8.2 billion in assets the accused fraudster once claimed.

Only $250 million has been located by the court-appointed receiver of Stanford Financial, according to court testimony Friday by an FBI agent involved in the case.

The testimony came at an arraignment hearing for Stanford Financial's chief investment officer, Laura Pendergest-Holt, who was arrested yesterday in Houston and charged with obstructing the federal investigation into her company. Her lawyer says she is innocent.

The government is asking a judge to set bail for Pendergest-Holt at $1 million. If she posts, they want her to subjected to electronic monitoring.

Pendergest-Holt was reportedly cooperating with authorities in the SEC's investigation of her employer.

But according to the complaint filed for her arrest yesterday, Pendergest-Holt lied to investigators. Among other things, the feds say she participated in a prep session with other Stanford executivess prior to meeting with them, but denied it when they asked her about it.

Stanford himself has not been criminally charged. Friday, the SEC amended its complaint against Stanford saying that Stanford's investment group is a Ponzi scheme. Previously they'd just stated that the money was unaccounted for. The SEC now alleges that Stanford and another associate took $1.6 billion for themselves from investor money.

Meanwhile, authorities continue to interview other Stanford officials. Stanford Financial board member James Stanford, the 81-year-old father of Allen, was interviewed by SEC officials earlier this week.

Fellow board member Robert S. Winter, 84, told ABC News Thursday he has retained a lawyer, in expectation of meeting with the SEC.

Stanford Accused of Swindling $8 Billion

Stanford was located by FBI officials last week and served with civil papers by the SEC, putting an end to a nationwide search.

Stanford later turned in his passport to federal prosecutors, saying "he would not flee," according to one of Stanford's lobbyists, Ben Barnes.

Stanford is "very depressed," Barnes said, and sought to end a federal manhunt for him by directly approaching officials at the Justice Department, Barnes added.

Earlier last week, the SEC accused Stanford of defrauding 50,000 customers around the world by lying about the return rate on certificates of deposits offered by his firm.

U.S. Marshals seized his company and its assets, under an emergency federal court order sought by the SEC.

Click Here for the Investigative Homepage.

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