Cricket billionaire Stanford pleads not guilty to 'Ponzi' scam

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London, June 26 (ANI): Texas billionaire businessman and alleged fraudster, Sir Allen Stanford, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he orchestrated a seven billion dollars fraud at his sprawling financial empire. The cricket entrepreneur has been charged with seven counts of wire fraud, ten counts of mail fraud and conspiracy to launder money.

Stanford was on Thursday nigh waiting for a magistrate to decide whether he will be released on bail after spending the last week in federal custody.

The man who was ranked the 605th richest man in the world last year by Forbes magazine with a fortune of 2.1 billion dollars was flanked by around 20 of his family and friends, The Telegrah reports.

Stanford answered only "not guilty, your honour" when the 21 counts of fraud, mail fraud, conspiracy and obstruction charges were read out to him.

During the hearing, his lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, revealed that Standford had turned to alcohol as a result of the pressure he has been under, and is now taking an anti-anxiety medication to deal with the stress.

DeGuerin, in support of his client, stressed that Sir Allen had co-operated with authorities throughout, saying that he "has exhibited strong character and solid work ethic over the course of his lifetime," and performed charitable works, including volunteering to clean up a nursing home in Antigua.

Prosecutors alleged that Sir Allen masterminded the seven billion dollars fraud at his Stanford Financial group of companies, taking money from investors who thought they were buying high yielding savings products. (ANI)

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