The Stanford meltdown

Stanford arrested in US

Cricinfo staff

June 19, 2009

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Allen Stanford outside his cricket ground, Antigua, October 30, 2008
Allen Stanford will appear in a federal court in Virginia on Friday © PA Photos
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Allen Stanford, the Texan billionaire, has surrendered to US authorities and will appear in a federal court in Virginia on Friday. He surrendered after a warrant was issued for his arrest following allegations of massive fraud involving his Antigua bank.

Stanford, 59, is expected to be transferred to Houston after his initial court appearance to face criminal charges, a federal official said. He already faces civil charges brought by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Dick DeGuerin, Stanford's lawyer, told The Associated Press that Stanford "surrendered this [Thursday] afternoon to some FBI agents who were hiding out in black SUVs outside the residence where he was staying in Virginia". "He walked out and asked if they had a warrant," DeGuerin said.

Stanford had been accused of "a fraud of shocking magnitude" by the SEC, the US's financial watchdog, in February. At the time, a US district judge granted the SEC's request to impose a temporary restraining order on the Stanford operations and to freeze the defendants' assets, and appoint a receiver to marshal those assets.

Stanford's fall from grace affected the finances and the credibility of the ECB and the West Indies Cricket Board, the two boards most closely associated with him.

The billionaire had become heavily involved in West Indian cricket since the time he built his own cricket ground in Antigua and funded a pan-Caribbean Twenty20 tournament in 2006. The level of his investment and the success of the Stanford 20/20 tournament led him to expand the competition with the backing of the WICB who agreed a five-year deal to back the event.

In February 2008, Stanford announced a US$20 million winner-takes-all tournament involving England and a Stanford All-Stars XI, drawn from the Caribbean. This was to be the first in a series of Twenty20 matches over the next five years, in which he would be investing US$100 million. The deal was confirmed at a glitzy launch event at Lord's in June last year where Stanford arrived by helicopter.

The week-long tournament in October-November attracted negative publicity, the nadir being personal attacks on Stanford himself when he was pictured with Matt Prior's pregnant wife on his lap.

Amid growing criticism, Stanford closed his cricket office in Antigua last December and wound up his board of legends. He also announced he would scale back his investment in the game and by the end of January 2009 rumours were growing about the state of Stanford's financial empire.

February's developments led the ECB and WICB to terminate their contracts with the Stanford group. The West Indies board was much worse off as it was not paid the US$3.5 million fee owed to it. Some of the West Indian players who scooped the US$1 million-a-head jackpot were not paid either. All domestic and international tournaments sponsored by Stanford were scrapped. News of his arrest is likely to embarrass world cricket further.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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