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Standford CIO Pleads Not Guilty

CaribWorldNews, HOUSTON, TX, Fri. May 15, 2009: Former chief investment officer of the Stanford Group has pleaded not guilty to obstruction of justice.

Laura Pendergest-Holt on Thursday said she was not guilty of one count of conspiring to obstruct a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into the Houston-based Stanford Financial Group.

The indictment accuses Pendergest-Holt of failing to tell the SEC during a Feb. 10 interview that she had met with Stanford officials in Miami in order to prepare for her SEC meeting. It also alleges that on Feb. 12, after her false testimony to the SEC, Pendergest-Holt caused $4.3 million in Stanford bank funds to be wire-transferred to the firm’s operating account in Houston.

Pendergest-Holt will remain free on the $300,000 bond that had been issued after she was arrested and charged in February. Her trial is set for July 20th. If convicted, she could be sentenced up to five years in prison for each count and fined up to $250,000.

The SEC has accused Pendergest-Holt  along with Allen R. Stanford and his finance chief, James M. Davis, of conducting an $8 billion fraud by advising clients to buy certificates of deposit at the Antigua-based Stanford International Bank.

Davis has promised to fully cooperate with federal investigators while Stanford has said he is innocent. Both have not been charged with a crime but only face civil charges based on the SEC allegations in February. However, all their assets remain frozen.