The Clarion-Ledger, 2/28/9

An executive of Stanford Financial Group is free on $300,000 bond after a court hearing Friday where she was painted variously as the scapegoat for what regulators call a massive Ponzi scheme and as one of the few who knows where millions of investors’ dollars are hidden.

Baldwyn, Miss., resident Laura Pendergest-Holt, the company’s chief investment officer, appeared in federal court as new details emerged showing the head of the firm borrowed $1.6 billion of the troubled company’s assets.

Pendergest-Holt faces charges she obstructed the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation of the Stanford scandal by lying about her knowledge of the firm’s activities and by omitting key details. She posted $30,000 cash – 10 percent of the total bond – and must wear an ankle monitor and find a job within 10 days as she heads to Dallas for more hearings in her case.

The SEC on Friday accused Pendergest-Holt’s boss, Texas billionaire and company CEO R. Allen Stanford, and his finance chief, James M. Davis, also of Baldwyn, of conducting a “massive Ponzi scheme” through companies they controlled, including Antigua-based Stanford International Bank. Stanford and Davis misappropriated billions in investors’ money and falsified the bank’s financial statements to conceal the fraud, the agency said in an amended civil complaint filed in federal court in Dallas.