Former cricket mogul Stanford to appear in court

Texas billionaire Allen Stanford, chairman of the troubled Stanford Financial Group, is to appear in court today on fraud charges after surrendering to FBI agents, officials said.

Authorities plan to unseal an indictment charging Stanford, law enforcement officials said.



Stanford surrendered in Stafford, Virginia, on Thursday and is to appear in federal court in the state capital, Richmond, today, the officials said.



A grand jury in Houston has been investigating Stanford Financial Group. The Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil charges earlier this year accusing Stanford and his top executives of conducting a multibillion dollar fraud by advising clients to buy certificates of deposit from the Antigua-based Stanford International Bank.



The SEC's lawsuit charged that the bank advertised its CDs in a brochure touting a conservative investment philosophy.



But instead the bank's portfolio was "misappropriated by defendant Allen Stanford and used by him to acquire private equity investments and real estate", the suit says.



An amended complaint by the SEC has accused Stanford and his finance chief, James Davis, of conducting a "massive Ponzi scheme" in which early investors were paid returns from money put in by later investors. Davis promised in April to co-operate with federal investigators. Stanford has maintained his innocence.



Dick DeGuerin, Stanford's attorney in Houston, said Stanford "surrendered to some FBI agents who were hiding out in black SUVs outside the residence where he was staying in Virginia".



"He walked out and asked if they had a warrant," DeGuerin said. He said Stanford told them to arrest him if they had a warrant and said if they didn't he would go back to Houston to turn himself in.



Laura Pendergest-Holt, chief investment officer of Stanford's parent company, is facing criminal charges of obstructing the SEC's investigation by lying about her knowledge of the firm's activities and omitting key details.



"We heard the grand jury has been active, and we fully expect indictments," her attorney Jeff Tillotson told the AP. "We obviously deny that our client has committed any crime."



He has said she was "set up" by Stanford.

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