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Stanford's bail decision postponed

TEXAS billionaire R. Allen Stanford's release on bond while he awaits trial on charges he swindled investors out of US$7 billion in a massive investment scam could be thwarted if prosecutors get their way.

United States Magistrate Judge Frances Stacy on Thursday said Stanford could be released on US$500,000 bond but told prosecutors, who had asked the financier be held in jail, she would delay her order to give them time to appeal her decision. The bond includes a US$100,000 cash deposit.

Dick DeGuerin, Stanford's attorney, had asked for a reasonable bond amount, saying his client is broke because authorities have seized all his assets, including his underwear and socks. He said Stanford wants to fight the charges against him, not flee.

But prosecutor Paul Pelletier argued Stanford should be held without bond because he might have access to billions of dollars in unaccounted investor funds, faces a potential life sentence if convicted and has an international network of wealthy acquaintances who would help him.

"There are no conditions that will guarantee this defendant's appearance in court," Pelletier said.

Stanford pleaded not guilty during his arraignment.

Laura Pendergest-Holt, Gilberto Lopez and Mark Kuhrt, three executives with the now defunct Houston-based Stanford Financial Group, also entered not guilty pleas.

Jury selection in the trial of Stanford and the others who were indicted was set for August 25 but it will likely be delayed.

The billionaire and the executives are accused of orchestrating a massive fraud by misusing most of the US$7 billion they advised clients to invest in certificates of deposit from the Stanford International Bank in the Caribbean island of Antigua.


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