UPDATE: Barbadian diaspora blogger Keltruth Corp. links to mainstream media reports confirming that Mr. Stanford has been located in Virginia. He has not, at the time of this posting, been charged with any criminal violations.
It's one thing for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to lay fraud charges against Texas billionaire-cum-Caribbean cricket magnate Allen Stanford – but first, authorities have to find him. As panicky investors flock to Stanford-owned banks from Antigua to South America to try and withdraw their funds, speculation is rife as to where Mr. Stanford might be.
Live in Guyana, on hearing the news that “billionaire investor and cricket financier Allen Stanford has gone off the radar”, says that he has “done a Dataram”, comparing his flight tactics to those of “Guyanese drug accused and US fugitive, Barry Dataram”. This is not the only talk of this nature in the regional blogosphere – Barbados Free Press says:
Current and past allegations include drug money-laundering by Stanford’s companies.
…and goes on to post another entry which suggests that:
United States federal authorities are putting out the word that as well as the Ponzi-scheme fraud charges, Sir Allen might be facing the music for money-laundering for a Mexican drug cartel and bribing public officials.
Living in Barbados views these developments as “a very good reason to argue for politicians to disclose their assets…to remove as much as possible the taint of possible conflicts of interest.”
The recent financial troubles befalling CL Financial Group's Trinidad operations and now the leveling of fraud charges against Allan Stanford and his Antigua-registered Stanford Financial Group point to one aspect of the possible conflicts in our own back yard. To what extent are politicians personally tied to the ailing institution or those who run them? To the extent that such ties exist, how has it affected or will it affect political and policy decisions? The Antiguan government was very cozy with Mr. Stanford, and with elections now set for next month, that may have a very bad bearing on the outcome for the ruling party. Barbados’ former central bank governor is on the Board. With Mr. Stanford going AWOL (reportedly in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands), the trail to find him and his assets may lead to some unwelcome doors.
Barbados Money Laundering Advisory meanwhile, sees parallels with “the ‘Lord Conrad Black’ story” but some bloggers’ main concern is still the potential effect of the fraud charges on the future of West Indies cricket. B.C. Pires writes from Barbados:
WEST INDIES TOOK all morning to remove the English night watchman. At blogging time, with lunch looming, England were nearly 400 ahead with seven wickets in hand. Will Captain Strauss hold the declaration until after lunch? Until Cook makes a century? Until the Allen Stanford lynching?
West Indies fans – such a misleading word for the miserable clutch still left doing their best to support the rump of what was once a fine team – know the real debate is when the collapse will come. Before tea? Before stumps today? Lunch tomorrow? Before the end of this sentence?
Once again, it’s not so much a case of Ye of Little Faith as much as We of Much Firetrucking Experience.
The Caribbean has had much experience of late with the debilitating effects of collapsing financial empires – how the Stanford story will play out remains to be seen.