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Stanford investment exec arrested -US Justice Dept

US authorities made the first arrest in the Stanford Financial Group fraud investigation yesterday, charging Chief Investment Officer Laura Pendergest-Holt with obstruction, the Justice Department said.

Pendergest-Holt made an initial court appearance before a federal magistrate in Houston after her arrest by FBI agents in the Texas city, the department said.

It said she lied to Securities and Exchange Commission investigators earlier in February when asked about her role in one of the group's investment portfolios and about a US$1.6 billion loan to a shareholder that was in the portfolio.

US securities regulators have filed civil charges against the firm's chairman, Allen Stanford, along with Pendergest-Holt and Chief Financial Officer Jim Davis, accusing them of fraudulently marketing $8 billion in certificates of deposit.


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