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ECB severs all ties with Stanford

Sir Allen Stanford
Stanford has invested heavily in West Indies cricket

The England and Wales Cricket Board has terminated all contractual links with Texan billionaire Sir Allen Stanford.

Stanford has been accused of a $8bn (5.6bn) investment fraud in the US.

England will not take part in any future $20m Stanford Super Series matches or the Stanford-sponsored Quadrangular Twenty20 games in England.

The ECB said the termination of contracts would have no impact on projected payments owed to the 18 counties or grassroots cricket.

"The ECB was shocked by the charges filed against the Stanford organisation and personnel earlier this week by the SEC (USA's Securities and Exchange Commission)," said ECB chief executive David Collier.

"Within minutes of the announcement, the ECB determined to suspend any further discussions with Stanford and the board has now agreed to terminate the ECB's agreements with Stanford.

"Given the uncertainty of the financial markets and the sponsorship dispute between Digicel and the West Indies Cricket Board over the matches in Antigua in 2008, when setting the 2009 budgets the board took a prudent position in creating a contingency in case the Antigua matches did not proceed.

"For that reason, ECB was able to confirm immediately to counties and Recreational Assembly (the non-professional game) that there would be no impact on fee payments in 2009."

The economic climate is very difficult at present and therefore a solid income base through the fee payments is critical to all counties

Essex chief executive David East

Essex chief executive David East said: "The communication from the ECB that the termination of the Stanford agreements would not negatively impact our fee payments was a great relief to all counties.

"This allows counties to move forward with their 2009 budgets given that, for some of us, the ECB fee payment accounts for the majority of their income.

"The economic climate is very difficult at present, in particular in the area of sponsorship and corporate hospitality, and therefore a solid income base through the fee payments is critical to all counties."

Antiguan lawyer John Fuller has questioned the rigour of the checks the ECB carried out on the American.

FBI agents in the American state of Virginia served Stanford with civil legal papers from the US financial watchdog, the SEC on Thursday.

And Fuller, a former associate of Stanford, said the businessman's links to South and Central America should have set alarm bells ringing.

"You wouldn't have to dig far to raise concerns," Fuller, who worked closely with Stanford during his time as owner of airline Caribbean Star and has known the billionaire for 10 years, told BBC Radio 5 Live. "There's been a bit of naivety.

"His bank was offering interest rates which were much higher than anyone else. He did not have any apparent income, at least here in Antigua, other than a small amount of money from two restaurants he has and a health spa.

MIHIR BOSE BLOG

"He was spending a lot of money on land, private jets and cricket. But the income was not visible."

In June the ECB struck a deal with Stanford to play five $20m matches, with plans in place for new Twenty20 tournaments in England as well.

The ECB and its chairman Giles Clarke have received support from at least 11 of the 18 counties and earlier on Thursday Glamorgan chairman Paul Russell defended the checks carried out by domestic cricket's governing body.

His Somerset counterpart Andy Nash also stood by the ECB and its attempts to verify the source of Stanford's apparent wealth.

But Leicestershire chairman Neil Davidson told BBC Radio 5 Live that the ECB should never have entered into contract with Stanford.

"This was the only credible decision the ECB could take," he said. "I didn't like the way the whole thing was presented and knew what damage it could do to cricket.

"Cricket is pretty much unique in that by and large cricket boards around the world contract with other cricket boards - they know who they're dealing with and they're reliable.

"In this case we contracted with an individual we knew nothing about."

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see also
Stanford bank in Antigua seized
20 Feb 09 |  Business
Agents find billionaire Stanford
20 Feb 09 |  Americas
Colin Croft column
18 Feb 09 |  West Indies
US fraud charge tycoon disappears
19 Feb 09 |  Americas
ECB suspends talks with Stanford
18 Feb 09 |  England
US tycoon charged over $8bn fraud
17 Feb 09 |  Americas
ECB committed to Stanford Series
09 Nov 08 |  England
ECB defends Stanford involvement
01 Nov 08 |  England
ECB plans Stanford Series review
29 Oct 08 |  England
Stanford plans global expansion
12 Jun 08 |  Cricket


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