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'Arrogance brought down Stanford'

Published:Tuesday | March 13, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Jurors in the recent trial of convicted Texas financier Allen Stanford say his arrogance and greed as well as compelling evidence by his former chief financial officer were primarily responsible for his conviction and the forfeiture of US$330 million in assets.

The eight men and four women jury on March 6 found Stanford guilty on 13 of 14 counts. Two days later, the same jury decided that Stanford must forfeit US$330 million in assets in 29 bank accounts seized by the US government.

Stanford was convicted of masterminding a "massive" US$7 billion Ponzi scheme by bilking tens of thousands of investors of high-yield certificates of deposit at his Antigua-owned Stanford International Bank (SIB).

"The jury returned unanimous verdicts, and we think they speak for themselves," jury foreman John Wojciak, an environmental engineer, told reporters.

Bruce Forrest, 47, an alternate juror and optician, said prosecutors presented "overwhelming evidence" that resulted in Stanford's conviction.

He said the testimony of James Davis, Stanford's ex-finance chief, was the most compelling.

Davis, who made a plea deal with the US government, testified against his former boss for five days during the six-week trial.

Forrest also recalled testimony from Sohil Merchant, Stanford's information technology chief, who testified to having to repeatedly fly in laptops to replace ones the tycoon had smashed against walls or dropped into water.

"There's an arrogance that goes with that," Forrest said, adding "and to find out he used other people's money in order to accomplish all this. Along with arrogance comes greed".

Forrest, however, lamented that Stanford did not take the stand on his own behalf.

"He might regret that now," Forrest said. "It's always nice to hear from him".

But another juror, Carlos Anez, 27, an industrial engineer, said it would not have made any difference if Stanford had personally testified, given the overwhelming evidence against him.

"It was a lot," he said, disclosing that the jury had briefly deadlocked on one count, the allegation that Stanford had bribed Antiguan banking regulator Leroy King with tickets for the National Football League's final, the Super Bowl.

King has also been indicted in the scheme and faces extradition from his native Antigua.

Anez said jurors were unsure about what the rules were in Antigua. Stanford was acquitted on that count.

Suicidal

Stanford's lawyers had unsuccessfully asked Judge David Hitter, who presided over the case, to delay the trial, claiming that their client was suicidal and might never sufficiently recover from a 2009 jailhouse beating by another inmate, to face a jury.

In addition, defence lawyers claimed that Stanford was addicted to prescription anti-anxiety drugs and had spent almost nine months in a US federal prison hospital in North Carolina in a detoxification programme.

But Hittner ruled that Stanford was legally competent to stand trial.

"That will be an issue," said Ali Fazel, one of Stanford's lawyers. "It will be a lengthy appeal".

- CMC