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Caribbean, USA: Stanford Charged with Fraud

Fresh on the heels of the latest regional financial meltdown comes another: news that U.S. billionaire Allen Stanford has been slapped with charges for investment fraud – more than 8 billion dollars’ worth. Stanford has become a household name in the Caribbean over the last few years, thanks to his high-profile involvement in the region's favourite sportcricket – and the potential fallout for the sport (the England and Wales and West Indies Cricket Boards have already suspended sponsorship negotiations with him following the fraud charges) appears to be concerning Caribbean bloggers as much as the economic ramifications.

Guyana Providence Stadium links to the story and asks:

Does this mean no 20/20 this year? How deh ass Guyanese cricketers will make a living now?

But his compatriot, Living Guyana, has bigger issues to think about as he quotes the text of the Securities and Exchange Commission‘s complaint against Stanford (“improbable, if not impossible” returns) and draws a link between the alleged fraud and Guyana's 2009 Budget – the contents of which lead him to believe that “the government of Guyana is ignoring reality.”

More north of the archipelago, in Jamaica, Stunner acknowledges the Texas billionaire as “the man who brought excitement and a lot of money to the game of Cricket, West Indies Cricket especially”, and goes on to say:

There is no doubt that the West Indies Cricket Board and West Indies Cricket have benefited from the monetary inputs of Stanford. Standford's 20/20 Tournament brought something new to West Indies cricket and was seen by many as a last ditch hope to revive the dwindling love of Cricket in the region and to pump some well needed money into the coffers of the WICB. However, with this new development, it seems that all this heavy funding will come to a screeching halt. Does this mean even more bad times for Cricket in the region?

He then considers the economic effects:

Putting Sport aside though, this charge has serious implications for many of his investors around the world and even closer to home, here in the Caribbean. This leads us to wonder who is next? Which financial entity will be next? How many other companies and their heads have been playing around with our hard earned savings? I see a very frightening trend, and now I'm wondering if my money is just safer under my mattress.

The mattress method, incidentally, is something that Trinidad and Tobago blogger This Beach Called Life says he can get on board with.

Over in Bermuda (a territory that may well have to redefine itself in the context of U.S. President Obama's crackdown on offshore tax havens), Vexed Bermoothes calls the fraud charges a potential “death knell for offshore banking in the Caribbean”, adding:

The tax clampdown is one thing, but allegations of large scale fraud will bring an entirely different set of pressures to bear on offshore jurisdictions.

Barbadian bloggers are also eager to weigh in on the debacle. Barbados Free Press compares Stanford to the great American swindler Charles Ponzi, saying:

For the last few weeks, desperate people have been trying to get their money out of Standford’s schemes: lining up every morning near the airport in Antigua without much success. Sir Allen will probably not go to jail. Very few of his wealth do. And you can bet that he and his friends had plenty of warning to sock away twenty or thirty million or more against the day.

I find that after the last six or eight months, I look differently at all the flamboyant high-flyers.

I also look very differently at their friends in governments everywhere who allowed this to happen, and who are so reluctant to hold any of these crooks accountable.

BFP‘s cynicism – or is it realism? – is echoed by Gallimaufry as she asks:

Is anybody in the Caribbean surprised by this? ‘Cause I’m sure as hell not.

Neither, apparently, is Cheese-on-bread!:

Wuhloss. I always knew there was something shady about Stanford and how he threw his cash around the Caribbean. I hope Suleiman Benn and the other cricketers who became instant millionaires in the recent Twenty-Twenty cricket tournament don't have to give the money back. And you know the Queen's taking back his knighthood…

Meanwhile, Barbados Underground wonders if there are parallels between Stanford and CL Financial:

Following on the news of the CLICO Affair should we conclude that the tumultuous global financial markets maybe starting to unload on the ‘quiet’ region of the Caribbean region?

Unlike the CLICO Affair which has direct implications for several economies across the Caribbean, the Stanford International Bank probe is restricted to the Antigua market. Some BU family members may challenge the fact that the Caribbean maybe tarred with the same brush given the tendency by outside markets to view the Caribbean region as one area.

He continues:

The possible demise of Sir Allen Stanford’s financial empire will have serious implications for the Antigua economy. Peter Wickham may even suggest that it could affect the outcome of the upcoming general election. It may prove an expensive lesson for the Antiguan authorities to be reminded that one should never build a house on sandy ground.

The thumbnail image for this post is by EricGjerde, used under a Creative Commons license. Visit EricGjerde's flickr photostream.

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