New Yorker takes you inside the world of Robert Allen Stanford Antigua's Cricket Magnate and Ponzi Scammer

New Yorker writer Alec Wilkinson, in his colorful article in Annals of Business, “Not Quite Cricket,” takes you inside the world of Robert Allen Stanford Antigua's Cricket Magnate and $8 billion Ponzi Scam artist - or as we like to call him, the answer to the question, What would the difference have been if Madoff was not a Jew? (You must register to read the whole article online.)
ABSTRACT: ANNALS OF BUSINESS about billionaire Robert Allen Stanford, his sponsorship of cricket in the West Indies, and the charges of fraud and running a massive Ponzi scheme brought against him by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The largest prize that two sports teams have ever played for was twenty million dollars, in a cricket match held last November in Antigua. The contestants were the English national team and the Stanford Superstars, a team selected from among the best players of the West Indies. The field and the purse belong to Robert Allen Stanford, a gaudy financier from Mexia, Texas, who lives on St. Croix. He is also a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda, where he has owned a bank, an airline, a sports club, a newspaper, a couple of restaurants, and the cricket stadium.

He is the chairman of Stanford Financial Group, a wealth-management company. According to Forbes’s 2008 list, his net worth was $2.2 billion. On February 17th, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil charges against him and two of his associates, saying they engaged in a fraud of “shocking magnitude” involving the sale of roughly eight billion dollars’ worth of certificates of deposit. As of last week, no criminal charges had been filed against Stanford, although one of his top executives had been arrested.

In Antigua, Stanford is a commanding figure, either esteemed or reviled, depending on one’s interests. Among people who care about cricket in Antigua, he is regarded as a savior. Quotes Jamaica Kincaid who says of Stanford, “He’s always been a crook.” Writer interviews Stanford on his yacht in Antigua (before the S.E.C. charges were filed against him). Tells about Stanford’s youth.

He attended Baylor and joined Stanford Financial Group, of which his father was the chairman, in the late nineteen-seventies. In 1993, he took over the company. Tells how he built up the business and established operations in Antigua.

Describes the S.E.C.’s allegations regarding the missing eight billion dollars in C.D.s. Stanford never cared much for traditional cricket, but he embraced and promoted a succinct, modern form of the game known as Twenty20. Tells about the creation of the Stanford Superstars and describes the twenty-million-dollar match against England, which was won by the Superstars. Writer interviews Lennox Cush, a member of the Superstars who lives in Queens and was unable to play in the match because of injury.

No comments: