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Top Stanford witness says he tried to conceal fraud

By Anna Driver

HOUSTON (Reuters) - A former top aide to Texas financier Allen Stanford said on Tuesday he continued to hide financial misdeeds as Stanford's empire was crumbling in early 2009.

James Davis, Stanford's former chief financial officer, said he drew up a document in February of that year showing Stanford's bank had assets of $6.3 billion, far more than was the case. This was despite learning in January that U.S. regulators were about to swoop down on the bank, Davis said.

Davis, who has pleaded guilty to fraud in a plea bargain, was on his fourth day of testifying against his former boss.

Stanford is on trial in federal court in Houston accused of bilking investors in his Caribbean bank in a $7 billion Ponzi scheme. He has denied the charges.

In a cross-examination that has gone on for two days, Stanford's lawyer, Robert Scardino, painted Davis as a habitual liar.

"You just said to the jury that you are no longer a liar. You quit lying?" Scardino asked.

"Yes, sir," Davis answered.

Under Scardino's questions, Davis said he was the source of a pie chart that showed the bank's assets at $6.3 billion. The chart was shown to other Stanford executives at a meeting in Miami in February 2009.

"Yes, sir I did put the $6.3 billion," Davis told the jury.

In another incident the same month, Davis said he threw his desktop computer, laptop computer and a flash drive into a lake near his Mississippi mansion.

Davis, who was Stanford's college roommate, pleaded guilty in August 2009 to three counts of conspiracy and fraud. He faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, but the judge who sentences him can take into account his cooperation with prosecutors.

(Reporting by Anna Driver; editing by Eddie Evans and Andre Grenon)

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