FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Cricket and Cartels

by BINOY KAMPMARK

Sir Allen Stanford was, at his height, valued in the billions.  His money financed an empire of sporting pursuits and tournaments, ranging from golf, tennis, football and, most notably of all, that archaic wonder called cricket.  And, like those before him, he made a killing on the vast network of offshore banking assets, run in such sunny spots of global finance as Antigua.  There was much money to be made, and it was made on the cheap.

Stanford’s financial behaviour was, however, of such a nature as even to worry regulators at a time when laissez faire fundamentalism prevailed.  The American SEC has stepped up to the podium, accusing Stanford of a fraud worth £5.6 billion, while the US Justice Department is launching its own investigation into the Texan’s money affairs.  After some searching, an initially elusive Stanford has been served with papers in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

In a nutshell, the SEC alleges that a fraudulent scheme was enacted, in which the Stanford Group sold some ‘$8 billion of self-styled “certificates of deposits” promising high return rates that exceed those available through true certificates of deposits offered by traditional banks.’  Returns were falsely advertised – identical percentages of 15.71 per cent, for instance, are recorded for both 1995 and 1996 from what is termed a ‘global diversified’ portfolio of assets.  Such figures, even by the standards of that group, were inventive.

It would seem that Stanford had paid homage to the Madoff techniques of employing the services of small auditing firms to monitor what was, effectively, a Ponzi scheme.  Regulation was skimpy at best; returns were advertised as regular and stable.   Of greater concern was to what end these frauds were perpetrated: a money laundering link to the Mexico Gulf group, a drug cartel, has been alleged by the FBI.

Despite regulatory slackness, anyone with an iota of investment sense would have steered clear of the unreliable Stanford, who had been given the odd slap on the wrist for financial regularities over the last fifteen years.  Chairman of the Domestic Policy Subcommittee in the US House of Representatives, Dennis Kucinich, claimed that the billionaire had been under much scrutiny for at least the last two years, a process which was accelerated after the Madoff revelations.  There were ‘smoke signals’, but few were taking any notice from the distant hill they were being fanned from.  A Miami broker, Charles Hazlett, got the jitters with Stanford’s superlative offshore empire as early as 2003.  Hazlett’s warnings were, as so much else in an age of profligacy, ignored by regulators governed by the spirit of a nihilistic Gecko rather than measured prudence.

Antiguan financial regulators were happy to let any inconsistencies that might have emerged from an audit of Stanford’s activities go unnoticed.  The investigation itself was suspiciously inadequate.  His knighthood was bestowed upon him by the good offices of Antigua, not the royal grace of Queen Elizabeth.

Stanford is perhaps most known for his involvement in  cricket.  He promised a cricket arcadia, equipped with delights to rival that of the Indian Premier League.  Cricket, in the vision of both Stanford and visionaries on the Subcontinent, would pinch a few tips from Super Bowl and baseball, paying elite players inordinate amounts for shorter times of play.  Girls with pompoms, cheering on the sideline, would come with the package.  Towards that end, the Stanford Superstars were created, a side which beat the English team in Antigua last November.  Winnings for the players, at least by conventional cricket standards, were enormous – some £700,000 each.

Unfortunately for English cricket, ignorance was blissful and, it would seem, golden.  Money poured into the game, and few questions were asked.  The West Indians, through a Stanford-funded cricket league on home soil, also stood to profit – money would be pouring into a sport that was losing ground to rival sporting codes.

Antigua, effectively Stanford’s economic fiefdom, and cricket may be the biggest casualties of this debacle, but other sporting representatives will also have reason to grieve.  Newcastle United striker Michael Owen may well be out of pocket to the tune of £500,000, the touted value of sponsorships that were set to go his way.

The Economist speculates that Stanford is the classic product of the bursting economic bubble – fraud happily keeps company with diminished financial returns and sinking markets.  But what is worse is that such individuals retain their sense of credibility, even after investigations are made and fines imposed.  Stanford always marketed himself as an indulgent saviour, a Gecko with a conscience despite being under heavy clouds of suspicion.  But at the end of the day, the temptation to doctor books and deceive customers proved irresistible.

BINOY KAMPMARK was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, University of Cambridge. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

 

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Paul Buhle
In the Shadow of the CIA: Liberalism’s Big Embarrassing Moment
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians of the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Rob Urie
Crisis and Opportunity
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Bernie’s Used Cars
Margaret Kimberley
Hillary and Colin: the War Criminal Charade
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Ishmael Reed
Birther Tries to Flim Flam Blacks  
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Terry Tempest Williams
Will Our National Parks Survive the Next 100 Years?
Ben Debney
The Swimsuit that Overthrew the State
Ashley Smith
Anti-imperialism and the Syrian Revolution
Andrew Stewart
Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?
Vincent Navarro
Is the Nation State and Its Welfare State Dead? a Critique of Varoufakis
John Wight
Syria’s Kurds and the Wages of Treachery
Lawrence Davidson
The New Anti-Semitism: the Case of Joy Karega
Mateo Pimentel
The Affordable Care Act: A Litmus Test for American Capitalism?
Roger Annis
In Northern Syria, Turkey Opens New Front in its War Against the Kurds
David Swanson
ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders
Norman Pollack
American Exceptionalism: A Pernicious Doctrine
Ralph Nader
Readers Think, Thinkers Read
Julia Morris
The Mythologies of the Nauruan Refugee Nation
George Wuerthner
Caving to Ranchers: the Misguided Decision to Kill the Profanity Wolf Pack
Ann Garrison
Unworthy Victims: Houthis and Hutus
Julian Vigo
Britain’s Slavery Legacy
John Stanton
Brzezinski Vision for a Power Sharing World Stymied by Ignorant Americans Leaders, Citizens
Philip Doe
Colorado: 300 Days of Sunshine Annually, Yet There’s No Sunny Side of the Street
Joseph White
Homage to EP Thompson
Dan Bacher
The Big Corporate Money Behind Jerry Brown
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
DNC Playing Dirty Tricks on WikiLeaks
Ron Jacobs
Education for Liberation
Jim Smith
Socialism Revived: In Spite of Bernie, Donald and Hillary
David Macaray
Organized Labor’s Inferiority Complex
David Cortright
Alternatives to Military Intervention in Syria
Binoy Kampmark
The Terrors of Free Speech: Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act
Cesar Chelala
Guantánamo’s Quagmire
Nyla Ali Khan
Hoping Against Hope in Kashmir
William Hughes
From Sam Spade to the Red Scare: Dashiell Hammett’s War Against Rightwing Creeps
Raouf Halaby
Dear Barack Obama, Please Keep it at 3 for 3
Charles R. Larson
Review: Paulina Chiziane’s “The First Wife: a Tale of Polygamy”
David Yearsley
The Widow Bach: Anna Magdalena Rediscovered
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail