Friday, February 20, 2009


The most surprising thing, in retrospect, is that anyone has been surprised at the revelation that Allen Stanford is apparently little more than a jumped-up Ponzi purveyor.

History is littered with the names of relatively wealthy, educated people who have gone weak at the knees in the presence of the outrageously rich. Giles Clarke and his fellow ECB lackeys are merely treading a well-worn path.

The previous Prime Minister positively dribbled in the company of rich men, without paying much heed to their morality or honesty – and the current one still seems to think that bankers are worthy of some sort of preferential treatment – rather than being hung from the lampposts of Threadneedle Street which would be the preferred treatment meted out to them by the other 99.9% of the population.

I’ll confess that I welcomed Stanford myself from the perspective of the money he was pumping to Windies cricket a few years ago. And the fact remains that, even with the recent allegations made by the SEC, his input into Caribbean cricket can still be seen as genuinely altruistic. The money he put into the grassroots has had a beneficial effect – it’s only when he started imposing a lot of 20/20 strings that things started getting a little ‘tacky’.

As everyone accepts, the ECB jumped into bed with Stanford on the rebound - as an antidote to IPL. They say they carried out the usual due diligence checks before signing any paperwork - but here’s the 6 billion dollar question - had they found something slightly unethical but effectively legal, would they really have pulled out of the deal?

After all – cricketing authorities haven’t exactly been squeamish in the past over who they’ve cuddled up to for money. They happily signed sponsorship deals with tobacco manufacturers long after the link to cancer was proved – and plenty of them were more than happy to deal with apartheid South Africa when most of the civilised world were starting to turn their noses up at what was going on. So a lippy US businessman with possible unethical business practices wasn’t going to ring many alarm bells - and even faint ones might have been safely ignored to make sure that the money kept rolling in.

Had they found evidence of outright fraud, then yes, you’d have expected them to bail out – but remember it took the SEC up to ten years to pin Stanford down - and he still hasn’t been formally read his rights yet. So what hope were the ECB going to have in finding anything untoward?

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