Sir Allen!

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February 25, 2009 3:28 p.m.

We like to make important news entertaining too. So we’ve been having a lot of fun with Sir Allen Stanford, the Brit-wannabe, cricket-promoting, alleged-mega-defrauding Texas high flyer whose mutlinational

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empire has crashed and burned into oblivion over … what, the last week or so. But there’s a part of this story I’d be remiss not to have mentioned.

In addition to all the individuals Stanford scammed he’s also managed to completely upend an entire small country: Antigua.

It was Antigua that knighted Sir Allen, which I guess they can do since they’re a member of the Commonwealth and have Elizabeth II as their head of state(*). (He also acquired Antiguan citizenship.) But it goes much further than that. It was Antigua where Stanford located all his off-shore bank shenanigans. But he had so many different operations going on down there (a recent report said that he was “a chief financier of government projects” in the island) that he and his businesses were the second biggest employer in the country after the Antiguan government.

Now, I have an affinity for the place because I’ve been there three times. Not that I’m some big Caribbean island hopper or world traveller. It’s the only place that I’ve ever been in the Caribbean. But I’ve been there three times. So I know the place a bit. And Stanford’s flameout has completely upended the whole place because he had made himself such a player there. As a funny illustration, a few days ago I went to the website of the local newspaper, the Antigua Sun, to try to find out the latest on what was happening down there. And I couldn’t find anything about it, which struck me as weird. And then I dug a little deeper to discover that … well, the Antigua Sun is owned by Sir Allen. So maybe that explains it.

The country has been hit by a major banking panic, not surprisingly. And the entire population has been in a panic over what’s going to happen to the country. Today the government announced that it is confiscating the land that Sir Allen owns in the island “to protect the national economy.” And that makes me wonder if more of that might be afoot because a few days ago the Prime Minister revealed that the government of Antigua owes Stanford “more than $100 million.”

(ed.note: Disillusionment aplenty tonight — alas, it seems I managed to overstate Sir Allen’s legitimacy, which is no mean feat. The knighthood had nothing to do with Antigua’s Commonwealth status or head of state. The whole thing is a sham. Antigua gives out its own knighthood. And even though Stanford long claimed that it was bestowed by Prince Edward, actually he got it under a 2000 amendment to the Antiguan Honors law, which allows the current PM to give them out to whomever he or she wants. Probably a whole ‘nother story there in how that amendment got passed.)

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