3/1/09

The Robert Allen Stanton Scandal's Christian Angle

We got mentioned on a Conde Nast blog for our concerns about whether Robert Allen Stanton was Jewish, and were reassured by Felix Salmon that Stanton and his crew indeed are not members of the tribe.

But then Salmon points us to the religious Christian affinity of the Stanford gang. His blog is clever and so here's its crux.
Market Movers by Felix Salmon
Sunday Stanford

The day that the SEC filed its complaint about Allen Stanford, Tzvee's Talmudic Blog immediately worried, and put up a blog entry titled "Is Robert Allen Stanford Jewish?". You can see where the concern would have come from: to have one multi-billion-dollar Jewish Ponzi artist might be considered a misfortune, but to have two looks seriously bad.

Turns out that Tzvee had nothing to worry about. The West Orlando News has one of my favorite headlines of the whole Stanford saga: "Small-Town 'Christians' Ran Stanford Dynasty". Turns out that Stanford and his CFO, James Davis, met at the Christian Baylor University, while Davis met Laura Pendergest-Holt at church. The newspaper reports:

One focus of the SEC investigation is the relationship between Ms Pendergest-Holt, James Davis, chief financial officer of Stanford Financial, and a small group of associates - a number of them apparently committed Christians - who were dubbed the "Baldwyn set" by other Stanford employees.

I'm reminded of these line from William Burroughs's "Words of Advice For Young People":

If you're doing business with a religious son-of-a-bitch,
Get it in writing.
His word isn't worth shit.
Not with the good lord telling him how to fuck you on the deal.

Of course, Madoff and Stanford were more than happy to promise -- in writing -- that their investors would get their money back. Sometimes it's best just not to do business with certain people at all....more...
The West Orlando News article cited by Salmon give a few more details on the religion of the scammers:
One focus of the SEC investigation is the relationship between Ms Pendergest-Holt, James Davis, chief financial officer of Stanford Financial, and a small group of associates - a number of them apparently committed Christians - who were dubbed the “Baldwyn set” by other Stanford employees. The nickname comes from the small Mississippi town where Ms Pendergest-Holt and Mr Davis grew up and from where they would run much of the tycoon’s empire.

The SEC says Sir Allen first met Mr Davis during the 1970s at Waco-based Baylor University, which advertises itself as “a top Texas Christian university”. The relationship developed until the two men allegedly had sole control of the so-called “tier three” assets that accounted for four-fifths of the purported $8bn-plus held by Sir Allen’s flagship Stanford International Bank.

Religion also seems to have played a role in the arrival on the scene of Ms Pendergest-Holt, who is yet to plead over the obstruction charges. The SEC claims she and Mr Davis met in a church in Baldwyn, where they were both born. She started working for him in Memphis, Tennessee, after graduating from the University of Mississippi in 1997.
It's a holy mess.

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