Cricketers’ Wives And Failed Health Clubs: The Allen Stanford Story

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We told you earlier today about “Sir” Allen Stanford, the Texas billionaire (he got himself knighted in Antigua) who runs a private investment firm that’s being probed by the Feds after consistently issuing deposits that pay interest rates at twice the national average.

Although we linked this morning to today’s New York Times report, the news that Stanford was being investigated by the federal government was originally broken by Business Week in this excellent rundown from Wednesday.

The magazine includes a great detail on Stanford’s comically desperate effort to claim that he’s descended from Leland Stanford, who founded Stanford University. It reports that despite those claims — here, for instance ….

[S]chool officials say there is no familial link to the financier. In October the university sued Stanford Financial in federal court in San Francisco, claiming it had infringed on the school’s trademark by using “confusingly similar imitations” of its logo at sporting events and other activities sponsored by Stanford Financial. Denying any wrongdoing, the firm filed a motion to dismiss the case in early February.

And we told you before about Stanford’s impressive record of political contributions to lawmakers of both parties. But he’s not just a big-time donor — Stanford appears to be pretty well-connected, with both major parties.

In 2007, the Inter-American Economic Council (IAEC) gave Stanford its “Excellence in Leadership” Award — at an event co-chaired by President and Laura Bush.

And according to this 2008 report from a St. Croix newspaper, when Stanford held a party to celebrate the opening of his firm’s new “global management complex” on the island, President Bush sent a note, reading: “I send greetings to those gathered in St. Croix, Virgin Islands to celebrate the expansion of Stanford Financial Group.” Keeping things bipartisan, Nancy Pelosi sent her own good wishes.

And check out this video, which the Stanford Financial Group made to tout its sponsorship of an event, held at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, for the National Democratic Institute, a non-profit group associated with the Democratic Party that works to spread democracy abroad. Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Howard Dean, and Pelosi all spoke at the event. Clinton personally thanked Stanford Financial.

Here’s another funny detail. We told you before about Stanford’s love of cricket. But last year, he sponsored a series between England and the West Indies that, according to the BBC, one English cricket official described as “a pantomime” and “obscene.” The England players complained about the state of the pitch, the lighting, and the crassness of playing for money while representing their country.

As for Stanford himself, it looks like it’s more than just the silly-mid-offs and leg-before-wickets that he gets out of the game. Business Week reports that during that ill-fated series:

Stanford sparked a scandal in England after a photographer snapped a shot of him with the wives of several professional British cricket players sitting on his lap. A father of six, who is separated from his wife, Stanford later issued an apology over the incident.

Oh, I say!

It hasn’t always been notes from the president and cricketers’ wives in his lap, though. Today, Business Week adds some information about one of Stanford’s early, considerably less successful ventures: a Waco, Texas, health club called Total Fitness of Temple Inc.

Court documents reveal that in 1983, Allen Stanford was slapped with a default judgment for failing to pay back rent on the lease for the health club. The judge in the case signed an order permitting the landlord, Allied Development Co., to collect some $31,800 in unpaid rent plus interest from the man who reportedly now has $2.2 billion in wealth.

You’ve come a long way, baby!

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