Laura Pendergest-Holt: Stanford Financial CIO Pleads Guilty To Obstruction Charges

The chief investment officer of Allen Stanford's disgraced Ponzi-scheme firm has pleaded guilty to obstructing investigations of it, the U.S. Attorney's Office says.

Laura Pendergest-Holt, 38, said she had hoped to stall an SEC investigation into Stanford International Bank (SIB), the Antiguan offshore bank owned by the financier.

Says the USAO:

In January 2009, the SEC sought testimony and documents related to SIB's entire investment portfolio. During her guilty plea, Holt admitted that despite knowing that she was incapable of testifying about the vast majority of that portfolio, Holt agreed to testify before the SEC. Holt acknowledged that her eventual appearance and sworn testimony before the SEC was a stall tactic designed to frustrate the SEC's efforts to obtain important information about SIB's investment portfolio and Holt admitted that she took this action intentionally and corruptly, knowing that her testimony would impede the SEC's investigation and help SIB continue operating.

Stanford received a 110-year prison term last week.

U.S. District Judge David Hittner said at the sentencing "This is one of the most egregious frauds ever presented to a trial jury in federal court."

If Hittner accepts the plea agreement worked out between Pendergest-Holt and prosecutors, she will get three years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.

Hittner is expected to sentence her in September.

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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly