The unusual twist to the case, in which Mr. Stanford is accused of operating a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme, was disclosed by Mr. Davis as he pleaded guilty on Thursday to fraud and conspiracy in Federal District Court in Houston. Mr. Davis, who oversaw the movement of vast sums of money at Stanford International Bank, also said in a plea agreement that Mr. Stanford ordered him to report false revenue and false investment portfolio balances to banking regulators as far back as 1988, when Mr. Stanford ran an offshore bank on the Caribbean island of Montserrat.
“I did wrong. I’m sorry. I apologize. And I take responsibility for my actions,” Mr. Davis said after the hearing.
Mr. Stanford was also supposed to appear in court on Thursday, but he was hospitalized in the morning after his pulse rate soared, his lawyer said.
While he has repeatedly denied accusations that he ran a Ponzi scheme involving certificates of deposit issued by Stanford International Bank, he has also insisted that if anything illegal did happen, it must have been Mr. Davis’s fault.
Mr. Davis, who had been a friend of Mr. Stanford’s since they were roommates at Baylor University in Waco, Tex., started his own church in Mississippi and led prayers before bank business meetings. His lawyer, David Finn, said Mr. Davis was now working on a family farm in Michigan doing manual labor for $10 an hour as an expression of penance. He now faces up to 30 years in prison.
“He had a very heavy heart,” Mr. Finn said. “He was very contrite, and not all of my clients are.”
The plea agreement and a court presentation on Thursday by prosecutors repeated many facts that were outlined in June in an indictment of Mr. Stanford, several Stanford aides and Mr. King. Mr. Stanford and others are accused of defrauding 30,000 investors of $7 billion, filing false reports to regulators and investors, diverting more than $1.6 billion into undisclosed personal loans to Mr. Stanford, and conspiring to obstruct an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
But the plea agreement offered an assortment of new details, particularly about the relationship between Mr. Stanford and Mr. King, who ran Antigua’s Financial Services Regulatory Commission for much of the last decade. He has been arrested in Antigua and is awaiting extradition to the United States.
Shortly after their 2003 blood-brother ceremony, which also included a second, unnamed Antiguan regulator, Mr. Stanford complained that two Antiguan regulators who worked for Mr. King were “becoming aggressive and suspicious in their examination” of the Stanford bank on the island, the plea agreement said. Both employees “soon thereafter were reassigned or replaced,” Mr. Davis said in the plea agreement.
To show appreciation for Mr. King’s services, Mr. Stanford paid $8,000 for tickets to the 2004 Super Bowl game in Houston so the regulator could take his girlfriend to the event. The next year, in June, Mr. King showed Mr. Stanford a confidential letter he had received from the S.E.C. seeking information about the Stanford bank’s certificates of deposit investment portfolio, stating that the agency had evidence to suggest the bank was engaged in a “possible Ponzi scheme.” Mr. Stanford and an unnamed aide then drafted “a false and misleading response” to the S.E.C., according to the plea agreement.
In September 2006, Mr. King tipped Mr. Stanford off to another letter from the S.E.C. Mr. Stanford, Mr. Davis and others proposed various responses designed to mislead the American regulators, which Mr. King was expected to transmit back to the S.E.C.
Mr. King also helped mislead regulators of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank when they began raising questions about Mr. Stanford’s bank, the plea agreement said. He faxed a proposed response to the Caribbean regulators to an unnamed lawyer working for Mr. Stanford. In it, Mr. King joked in a handwritten note: “Please do not bill me (laugh), Thanks a million, Lee.” The note was taken as an oblique reference to bribes already paid, according to the agreement.