Houston Public Media Live Blogs

Stanford Execs Trial

The trial of Stanford Financial Group executives Gilbert Lopez and Mark Kuhrt is now underway. The two are accused of aiding and abetting R. Allen Stanford's seven-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme. Andrew Schneider reports from Houston’s Federal Courthouse.

In the government's opening statement, prosecutor Jeffrey Goldberg recounted how R. Allen Stanford defrauded investors of billions of dollars. He described how investors were persuaded certificates of deposit in Antiguan-based Stanford International Bank were safe investments. And he detailed how Stanford used investors' money to fund a lavish lifestyle and prop up his own failing businesses.

Goldberg said Stanford could not have carried out the fraud without help. He said the defendants knew full well what Stanford was doing. Instead of confronting Stanford or quitting, Goldberg said, the two men actively covered up their boss's fraud -- Lopez in his post as chief accounting officer of Stanford Financial Group, Kuhrt as its global controller.

One of the main government witnesses in the trial will be former Stanford chief financial officer James Davis. Davis plead guilty to his own role in the fraud and is facing up to thirty years in prison. Earlier this year, he testified as the lead government witness against Stanford himself.

Attorney Richard Kuriansky gave the opening statement for Kuhrt -- attorney Jack Zimmerman spoke for Lopez. Both portrayed their clients as having been victims of the Stanford Ponzi scheme, laying the blame squarely on Stanford and Davis.

The two argued their clients had no role in the management of Stanford International Bank. Both said that, on occasions when the defendants had raised concerns about bank transactions, they were effectively overruled by Davis.

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