February 20, 2009
All Stanford plans put on hold

Several of the plans of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Cricket Association have to be put on hold, as one of its targettted financiers, Sir Allen Stanford, was charged last Tuesday by the US regulators over an alleged multi-billion dollar fraud.{{more}}

Among those on hold are an extensive training programme mainly focusing on the Under-15 cricketers, the building of concrete strips at Union Island, Sion Hill and Cane End and the construction of an indoor net facility.

This revelation of the disruption of these plans was made last Wednesday afternoon to SEARCHLIGHT by President of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Cricket Association Julian Jack.

Counting these as serious blows to his Executive’s programme, Jack said: “We will not be able to do such things as we had planned right now and they must be shelved for the time being, but cricket will go on”.

Jack stated that his Association receives US$15 000 per month as monies promised from agreements made by the Stanford Grouping with 19 regional Cricket Boards in 2006.

“We have two months outstanding, and if you check in the capital project which is $100 000, you can say about US $130 000 is outstanding,” Jack confirmed.

Jack told SEARCHLIGHT that initial capital funds which were to be spent on the Buccament Playing Field were used on other smaller projects, after approval from the Stanford grouping.

The Cricket President said that his Executive had put forward its quarterly submission for this year’s budget in January, but were told that they had to be put on hold, as there could not be a commitment from the Stanford grouping.

“We were also forewarned not to spend monies in hand unless they had been approved,” Jack added.

A former Windward Islands chief selector, Jack stated that despite the present uncertain climate, “We just have to play it by air and hope that the matter can be resolved soon, or hope that another sponsor comes along”.

Jack, however, was high in praise for the Stanford initiative, as according to him, “We cannot complain about Stanford’s input, as it has brought back some renewed interest in cricket, especially the shorter form of the game. He has taken it to another level.”

“Our players have benefitted financially, and they have seen how to work for their money and how to play the game at a higher level and under high pressure,” he concluded.

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint in a Dallas court last Tuesday against Stanford and three of his companies, alleging that about US $8 Billion of so-called certificates of deposit were sold to investors by promising improbable and unsubstantiated high interest rates.

The charges follow a recent probe by United States financial regulators into the operations of the Stanford Group and Stanford International Bank.

Stanford in 2006 staged the first regional 20/20 competition, in which the winning team collected US$1 million. The competition was repeated last year.

But in November of last year, he staged the US$20 million match between the Stanford Superstars and England, which was deemed the biggest ever cash prize for any sporting event.

Late last year, Stanford closed his Twenty20 office in Antigua, abandoned his team of legends and announced a review of his cricket operations.

Meanwhile, former longstanding president of the local cricket board and the Windward Island Cricket Association Lennox John said that Stanford’s saga is “a sad thing.”

John told SEARCHLIGHT that he is more concerned about what Stanford’s financing could have done for grass-root cricket development rather than his 20/20 push itself.

Meanwhile, the whereabouts of the Texan billionaire Allen Stanford remained a mystery up to press time even as hundreds of anxious Antiguans yesterday rushed to withdraw their savings from branches of the financier’s Bank of Antigua.

Hundreds formed lines that stretched outside of the bank into the street of the Antigua and Barbuda capital as panic gripped depositors one day after the tycoon was charged with $8 billion dollars in fraud by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

“People have to come to get their money,” said Rasta Kente, an electrician who joined a line that stretched around the corner at a downtown bank branch. Three security officers allowed only a few people to enter at a time.

One major US television network CNBC, reported that the 58-year-old financier had approached a private jet company seeking to get a one-way flight out of the United States into Antigua.

Citing an unnamed source in the private jet industry, CNBC reported that Stanford contacted a jet owner on Tuesday and attempted to pay for for the flight with a credit card, but was refused because the company would only accept a wire transfer.

The report did not identify the state that Stanford was in at the time although initial reports had suggested that the financier was in the the US Virgin island of St Croix on Tuesday when the fraud charge was made.