Stanford lawyers file motion to delay January trial
HOUSTON, United States, Friday December 23, 2011 - A fresh attempt has been made to delay the trial of accused Ponzi schemer Allen Stanford who was yesterday found mentally fit to defend himself.
Attorneys for the former financier have filed a motion to have the hearing pushed back to late April.
They argue that their client would not have sufficient time to review millions of papers in time for the January 23 court date.
According to the motion filed prior to the ruling, Stanford was previously unable to prepare for the trial because he was found to be legally incompetent to assist in his own defense.
District Judge David Hittner said he would rule on the defense request next week.
During this week’s two-and-a-half day hearing in Houston, attorneys for the accused argued that he was not competent to stand trial because of head injuries suffered during a 2009 prison fight.
Medical experts, who testified on his behalf, said he suffers from extensive retrograde amnesia.
However, prosecutors contended that the 61-year-old was faking amnesia to avoid trial, which has already been postponed twice.
"Stanford wants to con his way out of this case, the same way he conned investors," Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregg Costa told the court.
In his ruling, Judge Hittner said: “I have found by a preponderance of the evidence that Stanford is competent to stand trial.”
The Texas financier was indicted in June 2009 for allegedly running a US$7 billion Ponzi scheme through his Antigua-based Stanford International Bank.
Meanwhile, Stanford investors have filed a class action lawsuit against the US seeking to hold the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) responsible for failing to stop the Texan and his company from carrying out the alleged fraud.
They said the SEC did nothing even though it conducted several investigations between 1997 and 2004 into Stanford’s operations.
“The suit claims that the SEC was grossly negligent in its actions following each investigation in failing to take any action to stop Stanford, whom SEC official had determined was operating a Ponzi scheme,” stated a release from the group’s legal representative Kachroo Legal Services.
The lawsuit was filed December 13, a day after the SEC took similar action against the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) for its refusal to reimburse investors for their losses.
“This case is unique because the SEC knew all along that this was a fraud and did nothing,” said lead attorney Dr. Gaytri Kachroo.
“If the SEC had simply refused to register SGC for any of its various securities laws violations or reported to SIPC that SBC was a Ponzi scheme and insolvent, the SEC could have stopped this scheme over a decade ago.”