|By LARRY O'DELL, Associated Press|
"I was not dealing with the financial statements in detail,"
Vargas, 60, is charged with conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. He was the final witness to testify on the fourth day of his jury trial, which will resume with closing arguments Monday.
Vargas was president of
Prosecutors say Vargas lied to investors about Provident's financial assets, stability and credit rating. Vargas denied lying, saying the company had substantial "intangible assets" the government was not counting. He said he believed he was telling prospective clients the truth when he said Provident was protected by "reinsurance contracts," even though he had never seen them and they turned out to be nonexistent.
Vargas also denied knowledge that an accountant cooked the company's books to attain a top credit rating, despite what Assistant U.S. Attorney
"You are the only one who knows the real truth," the accountant,
Castillo, who testified against Vargas, pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud. He is scheduled for sentencing
During his nearly three hours on the witness stand, Castillo said that before he was arrested he was working with two other businessmen who wanted to take over Provident and infuse it with
"Oh my God, never. Never," Vargas said.
Brumberg also said that while the company was failing to meet its obligations and Vargas was looking for new capital, he was transferring more than
"You don't know me," Vargas protested. "I am a Christian."
According to prosecutors, Provident sold bonds with face value of
One of Provident's major customers was
"I just do not see how the U.S. government is judging me," he testified. "I was in
Brumberg asked Vargas if he had felt immune from extradition in his homeland.
"I have not done anything wrong, so I don't see why you ask me," he said.
The Provident and A&O cases were brought in
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