November 16, 2007
Sir Allen calls on foreign businesses to reinvest


THE REGION is attracting new “Pirates of the Caribbean” and they are no Johnny Depps, but people who cream off profits from the islands and give very little in return.{{more}}

American billionaire investor Sir Allen Stanford gave this assessment to a packed Hilton Barbados ballroom where he delivered one of the most heavily anticipated presentations of the two-day Caribbean International Leadership Summit hosted by the Cave Hill School of Business.

Sir Allen said that regional governments ought to tax heavily those companies that sent out most or all their profits, benefit from government incentives and give back little to the communities from which they benefited.

Sir Allen, who now resides in the U.S. Virgin Islands, said for far too long a large number of companies and investors profited from the Caribbean and had not reinvested in its infrastructure and people.

“This must stop,” he said to applause, noting that too many of these businesses were hoarding their profits.

The losers in these circumstances, he said, were “the bright young minds” who had to leave the region in search of jobs because these companies were not creating the kind of employment they were capable of doing.

At the same time, Sir Allen, the sole shareholder in Stanford Financial Group which has US$45 billion in assets under management, said tax breaks should be given to companies that “reinvested” in the region.

For him, the Caribbean was attracting the “wrong type of investors” and blamed governments for entering into “poorly negotiated deals” with investors who often did not stick to their promises.

He told the chief executive officers and top company executives from throughout the Caribbean that sanctions should be imposed on companies that did not live up to their end of the bargain.

“If they don’t reinvest in the islands and their people, they are no better than the pirates of the Caribbean,” he said alluding to the blockbuster movie starring Johnny Depp.

The two-day summit which featured some of the biggest names in business like Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric and owner of Digicel, Denis O’Brien, was hosted in conjunction with the Arthur Lok Jack School of Business and the Mona School of Business. (Nation)