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

 

More articles by:

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

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 28, 2017
Diana Johnstone
Macron’s Mission: Save the European Union From Itself
Jordon Kraemer
The Cultural Anxiety of the White Middle Class
Vijay Prashad
Modi and Trump: When the Titans of Hate Politics Meet
Jonathan Cook
Israel’s Efforts to Hide Palestinians From View No Longer Fools Young American Jews
Ron Jacobs
Gonna’ Have to Face It, You’re Addicted to War
Jim Lobe – Giulia McDonnell Nieto Del Rio
Is Trump Blundering Into the Next Middle East War?
Radical Washtenaw
David Ware, Killed By Police: a Vindication
John W. Whitehead
The Age of No Privacy: the Surveillance State Shifts into High Gear
Robert Mejia, Kay Beckermann and Curtis Sullivan
The Racial Politics of the Left’s Political Nostalgia
Tom H. Hastings
Courting Each Other
Winslow Myers
“A Decent Respect for the Opinions of Mankind”
Leonard Peltier
The Struggle is Never for Nothing
Jonathan Latham
Illegal GE Bacteria Detected in an Animal Feed Supplement
Deborah James
State of Play in the WTO: Toward the 11th Ministerial in Argentina
Andrew Stewart
Health Care for All: Why I Occupied Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s Office
Binoy Kampmark
The European Commission, Google and Anti-Competition
Jesse Jackson
A Savage Health Care Bill
Jimmy Centeno
Cats and Meows in L.A.
June 27, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
California Scheming: Democrats Betray Single-Payer Again
Jonathan Cook
Hersh’s New Syria Revelations Buried From View
Edward Hunt
Excessive and Avoidable Harm in Yemen
Howard Lisnoff
The Death of Democracy Both Here and Abroad and All Those Colorful Sneakers
Gary Leupp
Immanuel Kant on Electoral Interference
Kenneth Surin
Theresa May and the Tories are in Freefall
Slavoj Zizek
Get the Left
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia Wants to Reduce Qatar to a Vassal State
Ralph Nader
Driverless Cars: Hype, Hubris and Distractions
Rima Najjar
Palestinians Are Seeking Justice in Jerusalem – Not an Abusive Life-Long Mate
Norman Solomon
Is ‘Russiagate’ Collapsing as a Political Strategy?
Binoy Kampmark
In the Twitter Building: Tech Incubators and Altering Perceptions
Dean Baker
Uber’s Repudiation is the Moment for the U.S. to Finally Start Regulating the So-called Sharing Economy
Rob Seimetz
What I Saw From The Law
George Wuerthner
The Causes of Forest Fires: Climate vs. Logging
June 26, 2017
William Hawes – Jason Holland
Lies That Capitalists Tell Us
Chairman Brandon Sazue
Out of the Shadow of Custer: Zinke Proves He’s No “Champion” of Indian Country With his Grizzly Lies
Patrick Cockburn
Grenfell Tower: the Tragic Price of the Rolled-Back Stat
Joseph Mangano
Tritium: Toxic Tip of the Nuclear Iceberg
Ray McGovern
Hersh’s Big Scoop: Bad Intel Behind Trump’s Syria Attack
Roy Eidelson
Heart of Darkness: Observations on a Torture Notebook
Geoff Beckman
Why Democrats Lose: the Case of Jon Ossoff
Matthew Stevenson
Travels Around Trump’s America
David Macaray
Law Enforcement’s Dirty Little Secret
Colin Todhunter
Future Shock: Imagining India
Yoav Litvin
Animals at the Roger Waters Concert
Binoy Kampmark
Pride in San Francisco
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail