Ex-Stanford executive is flight risk

Laura Pendergest-Holt, the first person arrested in the $8 billion Allen Stanford fraud investigation, walks from the Federal Courthouse after posting a $300,000 bond in Houston in this file photo from February 27, 2009. REUTERS/Richard Carson

HOUSTON (Reuters) - The former chief investment officer for Stanford Financial Group facing obstruction charges, Laura Pendergest-Holt, is a flight risk and should continue to wear an electronic monitoring device, U.S.prosecutors said in a court filing on Tuesday.

Pendergest-Holt, 35, is accused of obstruction in the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s investigation of an $8.5 billion (5.4 billion pound) fraud.

She also faces civil charges related to the alleged scheme along with Texas financier Allen Stanford and the company’s former chief financial officer James Davis. Three Stanford companies are also named in the civil complaint.

In documents filed in U.S. District Court in Dallas, prosecutors argued that Holt remains a flight risk because she may have access to some of the billions in investor funds the government says it cannot locate.

“Access to even a small portion of these billions in missing assets provides the means and motivation for flight,” said the court papers signed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregg Costa.

Pendergest-Holt, who was first arrested in February for obstruction, was indicted last week. At the time of her arraignment, the lawyers asked that electronic monitoring be removed as a condition of her release.

An attorney for Pendergest-Holt could not immediately be reached for comment.

The case is: USA v Pendegest-Holt, No.4:09-CR-00250.

Reporting by Anna Driver, editing by Leslie Gevirtz