Jury: No Stanford verdict

2012-03-06 14:32

Houston - The judge in the fraud trial of cricket mogul Allen Stanford ordered the jury back to deliberations on Monday after they told him they could not reach a unanimous verdict.

Stanford faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of 14 counts of fraud, money laundering, conspiracy and obstruction.

Prosecutors alleged that he used "his depositors' money as his personal piggy bank," accusing Stanford of buying up regulators and bank examiners to keep his 20-year-long fraud going.

The 61-year-old has pleaded not guilty to bilking some $7 billion from 30 000 investors from more than 100 countries through bogus investments with Stanford International Bank.

After four days of deliberations, the jury in his trial wrote to judge David Hitter to say they were unable to reach an unanimous verdict. It was unclear from the note how many counts were in contention.

The flamboyant Texan ex-tycoon has spent the past three years in jail after being deemed a flight risk shortly after his February 2009 arrest.

Stanford, a longtime resident of Antigua, came to cricket prominence when he announced he was putting $28 million into funding a Caribbean-wide Twenty20 tournament in 2005.

Hittner called the jury back into the courtroom and reminded them that the trial had been expensive in terms of time, money and effort, and encouraged them to try to reach a verdict.

He delivered a legal message, the so-called "Allen charge," a last-ditch bid to avoid a hung jury which in the US legal system would lead to a mistrial.

"There is no reason to believe this case can be tried better or more exhaustively than it has already been tried before you," Hittner said.

"Those of you who believe beyond a reasonable doubt that the government has proven its case and the defendant is guilty should ask yourselves if the evidence presented is really convincing enough to convict."

"Those of you who do not believe the government has proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt should ask yourselves if the doubt you have is reasonable given that other members of the jury do not share your doubt," the judge continued.

"It is your duty to return a verdict if you can. Be as leisurely in your deliberations as you choose. Now please return to deliberating."

Earlier in the day, the jury sent out two questions in an apparent attempt to clarify evidence on charges relating to gifts Stanford allegedly gave to an Antiguan bank regulator.

The jury were set to resume their deliberations early on Tuesday.