Obstruction charges hit Stanford investment officer

Houston Chronicle:

The chief investment officer for Houston-based Stanford Financial Group was arrested in Houston today on a criminal charge of obstructing a proceeding before a federal agency, the U.S. Justice Department said.

The complaint stems from testimony Laura Pendergest-Holt gave to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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It alleges that Pendergest-Holt made misrepresentations to the SEC in order to obstruct its investigation into Stanford Financial.

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The charges suggest that Pendergast-Holt gave testimony inconsistent with some evidence already in the SEC possession. In cases like this the regulators have a large volume of collected documents and potential witnesses need to be wary of assertions that are inconsistent with what their own documents reveal. The smart course if for the potential defendant to emphasize that their testimony is based on recollection and ask the questioner if they have any documents on the issue with which they can refresh their recollection.

This appears to be a case where it might be easy to trip up. There could easily be a whole line of questions on the lack of documentation of the business transactions at Stanford.

The irony of this charge is that a few days ago Pendergast-Holt was being described by some in the media as the person who might bring Stanford down. At this point it looks like she may have brought herself down.

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