Federal officials have labeled shamed financier R. Allen Stanford’s operation a Ponzi scheme for the first time, the Houston Chronicle reports. The accusation—meaning the company used cash from new investors to pay older ones—came in an amended civil fraud complaint from the SEC yesterday alleging Stanford and a fellow exec misappropriated huge sums and engineered a bogus $1.6 billion loan to the firm.
Stanford Financial's chief investment officer, Laura Pendergest-Holt, the only person charged with a criminal offense so far in the federal probe, was freed on $300,000 bond yesterday after spending the night in jail. The judge ordered Pendergest-Holt to get a job outside the financial industry—even if it's "wrapping hamburgers." Her lawyer slammed authorities for charging his client but not her billionaire boss. (Read more Laura Pendergest-Holt stories.)