Allen Stanford decides not to take stand at his fraud trial

Prosecutors were in the dark until the last moment over Stanford taking the stand

New York

A Houston jury is to begin deliberating the fate of Allen Stanford, the cricket-loving playboy accused of orchestrating one of the world's biggest savings frauds.

Mr Stanford, whose controversial sponsorship of Twenty20 tournaments proved a headache for the England and Wales Cricket Board, decided not to take the stand in his own defence at the end of a month of witness testimony.

Prosecutors and defence lawyers will present their closing arguments today, presenting Mr Stanford, respectively, either as a crook who stole people's savings to fund a lavish lifestyle and pet projects that were never going to make money or as a legitimate banker whose empire was reduced to rubble by the false accusations against him.

The defence had kept prosecutors in the dark until the last moment over whether the 61-year-old Texan would take the stand. Mr Stanford was allowed to spend 15 minutes in a back room with his mother before the decision was announced. Sammie Stanford, 82, told reporters her son had not been well and was probably not up to testifying. Court had to be adjourned early on two days last week because Mr Stanford was suffering a cold and coughing through proceedings.

The trial, which began with opening statements on 24 January, had already been delayed because of a prison beating that left Mr Stanford addicted to anxiety medication and, he said, unable to remember large parts of his career in business.

The prosecution alleges that Stanford International Bank, based in Antigua, was running a pyramid scheme second in size only to Bernard Madoff's. The $7bn (£4.5bn) Mr Stanford claimed to be managing on behalf of thousands of savers had been squandered.

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