Stanford: the man who hit cricket (and banks) for six

WASHINGTON, June 19, 2009 (AFP) – Texan billionaire financier Allen Stanford has long had a love of luxury and the finer things in life, such as tropical islands, but he is also no stranger to controversy. When he unveiled his 20 million dollar winner takes all Twenty20 match between his Caribbean Superstars and England, many in the cricket world were appalled at his gall in challenging the sacrosanct traditional cricket establishment.

But that controversy may soon pale by comparison as Stanford’s name becomes forever linked to a massive financial scam, known as a Ponzi scheme, even though he has vehemently protested his innocence.

On Friday Stanford was charged along with four others with 21 counts of fraud, money-laundering and obstruction of justice, accused of masterminding a decade-long eight-billion-dollar scam with a global reach.

Stanford, a Texan-born businessman and longtime resident of Antigua, came to cricket prominence when he announced he was putting 28 million dollars into funding a Caribbean wide Twenty20 tournament in 2005.

The story goes that when Stanford stepped off a plane in Antigua and saw airport workers playing cricket in a nearby pasture during a break, he