Right to legal help and to not incriminate himself bind him

Allen Stanford, 59, is caught between two constitutional rights: one guaranteeing legal counsel and one protecting defendants from being forced to testify against themselves, Bloomberg reports.

Stanford is charged with leading a $7bn Ponzi scheme, which he denies. The US Securities and Exchange Commission got a court order freezing his assets. The judge in the case said the financier can’t touch the money unless he proves it’s untainted by wrongdoing.

Bloomberg reports: “Any effort by him to challenge civilly or criminally what the government’s got comes with a risk of exposing himself and forfeiting his rights,” said former federal prosecutor Eric Sussman, who’s not involved in the case. “Obviously, it puts him in a bind.”

Testify or else

To show his assets are untainted, freeing them so he can pay his lawyers, Stanford would have to testify, defence lawyer Dick DeGuerin told US District Judge David Hittner in Houston. Anything he revealed about his finances could be used against him in the criminal prosecution.

Stanford has one lawyer seeking to quit for not being paid and another unwilling to commit without a guarantee of payment.

Bloomberg says: “Allowing Stanford to use $10m of his fortune to pay for lawyers would be like letting a bank robber use money he stole to pay for a defence, the government replied.”