Allen Stanford’s fraud trial kicks off in Houston

The trial of Allen Stanford, the Texan banker accused of running a $7bn (£4.5bn) Ponzi scheme, started yesterday after years of delays.

Prosecutors accuse Stanford of issuing fraudulent certificates of deposit through his Antigua-based bank and then bilking investors out of their money.

Stanford, who faces 14 counts of fraud, conspiracy and conspiracy to commit money laundering, has denied any wrongdoing.

Investors have recovered nothing in the two and a half years since he was arrested.

As jury selection began yesterday, Stanford, 61, stood and peered intently at a pool of 80 jurors as they filed into a federal courtroom in Houston. He wore a rumpled light grey suit, a blue shirt and no tie in his first court appearance in street clothes since his arrest in June 2009.

Prosecutors have said Stanford’s scheme included Swiss bank accounts, a blood oath meant to keep Antigua’s financial regulator silent, and an eleventh-hour flight to Libya by Stanford and his girlfriend.

Stanford’s attorneys have said that he is unfit for trial after a severe jailhouse beating and an addiction to anti-anxiety medication.