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Allen Stanford has pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud, conspiracy and obstruction.
Stanford, who appeared in court in Houston wearing handcuffs and leg chains and an orange jump-suit, has been in detention since he surrendered to FBI agents on June 18.
He stands accused of fraud totalling US$7 billion (£4.3 billion), and the charges include seven counts of wire fraud, 10 counts of mail fraud, conspiracy to obstruct an investigation for the Securities and Exchange Commission, obstruction of an investigation by the SEC and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Stanford, who was surrounded by family and friends, spoke only to answer "not guilty, your honour" when the charges were read out to him. His lawyer then claimed his client had turned to alcohol as a result of the pressure he has been under.
The magistrate set a date of August 25 for the trial of Stanford and his four co-defendants. A decision is awaited whether they will be granted bail in the interim.