Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Alan Stanford: International Super Villain

Obviously, everyone knew this already. Just look at the teeth.

And his attempt to destroy cricket didn’t win too many fans amongst the cricketing fraternity. Although, it improved his standing in BCCI Towers.

Alan Stanford has been accused on non-transparent practices in dealing with clients' investments. They they thought their investments were being held in liquid assets, but, in fact, they were ploughed into property. Outside the world of finance this is called “lying”. The chief investment officer instructed staff to not inform investors about Stanford’s investment practices, as it “wouldn’t leave an investor with a lot of confidence”.

The classic signs of financial fraud were apparent for all to see: “off-shore financing” is another way of saying “I’m stealing your money”; Stanford has had his banking licence in Montserrat revoked for dubious dealings; smooth year-on-year returns; and law enforcement investigations since the early nineties. Even before the SEC accused him of an $8 billion “massive ongoing fraud” the US tax authorities were trying to recover $104,236,285.85 federal tax lien.

Now there is possible exposure to the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme, alleged connections to gulf gangsters and 30,000 investors have unsuccessfully sought to get their money back. Hilariously, he went on the run, and was eventually tracked down to (one of) his girlfriend’s house in Virginia. Which was also the area that Robert E. Lee conducted his last desperate rear-guard action before surrendering to the inevitable encircling of reality.

Stanford’s dad has come out to say that he thinks he’s a good guy, so I suppose that makes it ok.

Of course, it would be a bit smug of me to say that I work for an organisation that constantly vets all those that it works for, and that a simple investigation on well-known internet search programmes are a start in the process of due diligence, which, in itself, is a lengthy, but simple procedure. I won’t say any of these things, though, because, rather like Giles Clarke, I am above the fray. I don’t want the legacy of this post to be about a lying Texan.

The question is: Has the ECB moved on from the 19th century? Well, it still has the shameless appetite for foreign treasure. It still holds archaic bureaucratic practices that strangle the game. But, most pressingly, it is still run by Old Boys.

The problem with Old Boys is that when they look on another male, about a similar age, and with heaps of cash, they welcome the decent old chap into their open bosom.

“Come on in, old bean, put your feet up, relax, lighten the load and leave your cash by the door as you come in, my dear thing.”

Thoughts like “I wonder where that money comes from” would never enter an Old Boy’s cheery, port-soaked brain. Money, of course, is vulgar; necessary but vulgar. That a professional businessman like Clarke didn’t even consider the reputational risk of Stanford is remarkable, but, really, the information is there for all to see.

I’ve been having a little root around Stanford’s site. The news section has not been updated since the 3rd February. Presumably, the Communications team are hiding in their girlfriends' house. Apparently, not only does Sir Poverty inflict his smile upon his staff, but also some “flair”:

“To distinguish the men and women of the Stanford Financial Group of companies, every employee wears an eagle shield representing financial strength, integrity and commitment to our clients.”
This man is to be avoided.

The “eagle shield” is a crappy, tacky, nasty little badge-thing that distinguishes between employees that work for a ghastly boss, and employees that work for a ghastly boss with a horrendous perma-tan. In any case, it’s a shame that the Group’s commitment to its clients extends to giving their money back.


D Charlton said...

I remember you hating him from the outset when all he seemed was a gift-horse with his mouth open. Then ECB looked into it. But not behind...

Cracking read again.

Crow Maniac said...

Excellent post, the old boys club is an apt analogy for the Pommy cricket structure.

horatius said...

The dangers of getting in bed with Lord Spamford - only The Atheist could have foreseen.

Ceci said...

Fab post - the guff about his corporate badge just takes the biscuit!