Belfast Telegraph

ECB’s shame over Stanford

England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke today admitted throwing in their lot with billionaire Sir Allen Stanford was a mistake.

The ECB have ceased negotiations with Stanford after it emerged he had been charged over a "massive fraud based on false promises" in the United States.

Stanford, three of his companies and two of his business associates were today charged by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for "orchestrating a fraudulent, multi-billion dollar investment scheme centring on an 8billion dollar CD (certificate of deposit) programme".

The controversial Texan agreed a deal with the ECB last summer for five one-off encounters, to be played annually each November, with an overall prize fund of US dollars 20million per match.

Asked whether getting into a business relationship with Stanford could now be construed as a mistake by the ECB, Clarke said: "We had the best of intentions, so yes."

Although the ECB confirmed all money owed on last autumn's Stanford 20:20 for 20 had been paid up, there were further strands to the tie-up between the parties, with Stanford expected to become a major backer of the proposed P20 tournament in England from 2010.

The formalities of the Stanford quadrangular event, to run for three years from this May onwards and worth USD 9million between the competing teams, were in the process of being finalised.

"We have a situation where a court case has been filed," Clarke said. "The matter is therefore sub judice.

"At the moment, all of the obligations with regard to the game that was played have been met and all of the various people who were expected to do various things for that match have received their remuneration, as far as I am aware."

Of the four-team quadrangular tournament, also expected to feature Sri Lanka and New Zealand, Clarke added: "We will clearly consider that situation but, as we have suspended all negotiations, there is a strong possibility that will now not take place."

The ECB carried out due diligence prior to making their long-term agreement with Stanford last summer.

"He was conducting a banking operation, which, at the time, based on the information from the work that was done, showed no indication that there was anything that could prevent him from paying his obligations," said Clarke. "We did what we did because we believed we were doing the right thing to raise funds for West Indies cricket and, indeed, our own game.

"It was an opportunity to get Chance to Shine established in the Caribbean.

"He had been doing business here with the West Indies Cricket Board for a number of years promoting tournaments, which had been successful."

Linda Chatman Thomsen, director of enforcement at the SEC, said: "Stanford and the close circle of family and friends with whom he runs his businesses perpetuated a massive fraud based on false promises and fabricated historical return data to prey on investors."

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