Stanford receiver finds $90 million in assets: FBI

HOUSTON (Reuters) - The court-appointed receiver overseeing the financial empire of Texas billionaire Allen Stanford, who is charged with fraudulently selling $8 billion in certificates of deposit, has located $90 million in assets so far, an FBI agent said on Friday.

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FBI Special Agent Vanessa Walther told U.S. Magistrate Mary Milloy about the findings during a court hearing held to review criminal charges against Laura Pendergest-Holt, the chief investment officer of Stanford Financial Group. She has been charged in connection with the $8 billion fraud.

Pendergest-Holt has not yet entered her plea in the proceeding.

She faces one federal criminal charge of obstruction as well as U.S. civil charges.

U.S. prosecutors said Pendergest-Holt concealed her role in and familiarity with Antigua-based Stanford International Bank, which issued the high-yield CDs that the governments says Stanford fraudulently sold to investors.

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After being arrested by the FBI at Stanford’s Houston-based U.S. headquarters on Thursday and spending the night in a federal detention facility, Pendergest-Holt, 35, appeared in the courtroom, wearing a dark black suit and high heels. She was not handcuffed or restrained.

Dallas lawyer Ralph Janvey, the court-appointed receiver overseeing Stanford’s assets, advanced Pendergest-Holt $10,000 on her salary so she could travel to Houston to meet with him at Stanford’s U.S. headquarters, Walther said in testimony.

“She was cooperative,” the FBI’s Walther said, also disclosing that Pendergest-Holt’s salary in 2007 and 2008 was $1 million.

After answering questions for several hours, Pendergest-Holt was met in the office lobby by five FBI agents, who arrested her, said Houston lawyer Dan Cogdell, who represented her in the hearing.

Pendergest-Holt was “shaking for hours” afterward, Cogdell said.

Reporting by Anna Driver in Houston; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe