WASHINGTON – Laura Pendergest-Holt, 39, the former chief investment officer of Houston-based Stanford Financial Group, was sentenced today to 36 months in prison for her role in obstructing a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation into Stanford International Bank (SIB), the Antiguan offshore bank owned by convicted financier Robert Allen Stanford.
Today’s sentence was announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas; FBI Assistant Director Ronald T. Hosko of the Criminal Investigative Division; Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Employee Benefits Security Administration Phyllis C. Borzi; Chief Postal Inspector Guy J. Cottrell from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS); and Chief Richard Weber, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).
The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge David Hittner in the Southern District of Texas. In addition to her prison term, Holt was sentenced to three years of supervised release. Judge Hittner noted that Holt did not have the ability to pay a fine.
In January 2009, the SEC sought testimony and documents related to SIB’s entire investment portfolio. Although she was incapable of testifying about the vast majority of that portfolio, Holt nevertheless agreed to testify before the SEC. In her guilty plea, Holt acknowledged that her eventual appearance and sworn testimony before the SEC was a stall tactic designed to frustrate the SEC’s efforts to obtain important information about SIB’s investment portfolio. Holt admitted she took this action intentionally and corruptly, knowing that her testimony would impede the SEC’s investigation and help SIB continue operating.
Holt was remanded into custody today.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Houston Field Office, USPIS, IRS-CI and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration. The case against Holt is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Varnado of the Southern District of Texas, Deputy Chief Jeffrey Goldberg of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Fraud Section Trial Attorney Andrew Warren. Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregg Costa of the Southern District of Texas and Fraud Section Deputy Chief William Stellmach were also involved in this case.
The Justice Department thanks the SEC for their assistance and cooperation in this matter.