Stanford’s lawyers in bid to delay Ponzi trial by two years

Lawyers for Allen Stanford, the Texas financier accused of a US$7 billion Ponzi scheme, are asking to delay a trial set to begin Jan. 24 for at least two years so they can prepare their defence, Bloomberg is reporting.

They are arguing that Stanford’s trial preparation suffered during the first nine months of this year because his previous lawyer “focused on attempting to obtain funds from the insurance provider” more than on the financier’s defence”. Bloomberg said that this was the contention of the lawyers, Ali Fazel and Richard Scardino, said in a court filing on December 22. “During this period of time, the accused determined that little progress was made toward actual trial preparation.”

Allen Stanford
Allen Stanford

Fazel and Scardino were appointed as Stanford’s attorneys in October, after U.S. District Judge David Hittner in Houston declared the former billionaire indigent. Bloomberg said the attorneys   told Hittner in October that they would try to be ready for a January trial, which was then about 90 days away.

In requesting the delay on December 23rd, the lawyers said they won’t have enough time to properly peruse more millions of documents and dozens of potential witnesses.

Stanford, 60, has been detained as a flight risk since June 2009. He faces charges that he swindled investors through the sale of bogus certificates of deposit by Antigua-based Stanford International Bank Ltd.

Stanford’s personal doctor declared him incompetent to stand trial in court papers this month, and his lawyers have asked for a hearing to assess the financier’s mental fitness, according to court records. Prosecutors received court approval to conduct their own psychiatric evaluation of Stanford, according to court records, Bloomberg said.

Stanford was ranked by Forbes magazine as one of the world’s richest men in 2008, with an estimated net worth of more than $2 billion, Bloomberg noted.

The criminal case is U.S. v. Stanford, 09-cr-00342, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Houston). The SEC case is Securities and Exchange Commission v. Stanford International Bank, 09-cv-00298, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Dallas).

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