Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only shake you down once a year, but when we do we really mean it. It costs a lot to keep the site afloat, and our growing audience, well over TWO million unique viewers a month, eats up a lot of bandwidth — and bandwidth isn’t free. We aren’t supported by corporate donors, advertisers or big foundations. We survive solely on your support.
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:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 28, 2016
Eric Draitser
Stop Trump! Stop Clinton!! Stop the Madness (and Let Me Get Off)!
Ted Rall
The Thrilla at Hofstra: How Trump Won the Debate
Robert Fisk
Cliché and Banality at the Debates: Trump and Clinton on the Middle East
Patrick Cockburn
Cracks in the Kingdom: Saudi Arabia Rocked by Financial Strains
Lowell Flanders
Donald Trump, Islamophobia and Immigrants
Shane Burley
Defining the Alt Right and the New American Fascism
Jan Oberg
Ukraine as the Border of NATO Expansion
Ramzy Baroud
Ban Ki-Moon’s Legacy in Palestine: Failure in Words and Deeds
David Swanson
How We Could End the Permanent War State
Sam Husseini
Debate Night’s Biggest Lie Was Told by Lester Holt
Laura Carlsen
Ayotzinapa’s Message to the World: Organize!
Binoy Kampmark
The Triumph of Momentum: Re-Electing Jeremy Corbyn
David Macaray
When the Saints Go Marching In
Seth Oelbaum
All Black Lives Will Never Matter for Clinton and Trump
Adam Parsons
Standing in Solidarity for a Humanity Without Borders
Cesar Chelala
The Trump Bubble
September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
James McEnteer
Eugene, Oregon and the Rising Cost of Cool
Norman Pollack
The Great Debate: Proto-Fascism vs. the Real Thing
Michael Winship
The Tracks of John Boehner’s Tears
John Steppling
Fear Level Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?
James Russell
Beyond Debate: Interview Styles of the Rich and Famous
September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]