There are two worlds that exist within the difficult thoughts of Allen Stanford. One sees him on horseback at George Bush’s Texas ranch, playing fun with England avid gamers’ other halves and touchdown at Lord’s in a helicopter to vaunt his multi-billion-dollar empire.
The opposite sees him repeating ‘I’m blameless’ again and again every week, worshipping Kevin Pietersen and, regardless of serving a 110-year jail sentence, keeping up his imaginative and prescient of being concerned with cricket as soon as once more as he enters an 8th decade.
The 72-year-old, jailed for orchestrating the second-largest investor fraud in US historical past which noticed sufferers rinsed of $7billion (£5.7bn), has most effective given one earlier interview since his 2009 incarceration.
Realities of existence in prison, the place Stanford spends maximum of his days stewing away in an 8ft via 13ft mobile with just a Bible for solace, may just no longer be extra marked for a person identified for his flamboyant way of life.
‘I used to be operating a excellent send and doing issues ethically and truthfully, when the United States govt got here in and mentioned, “You’re not anything however a rattling, sorry son of a whinge stealing from widows and orphans”,’ he claims.
On Thursday, he starts a last try to be freed on enchantment via the United States Excellent Court docket regardless of a jury convicting him on 13 counts of fraud in 2012.
If he’s a success, he’ll strive to go back to pastures that when noticed him captivating the ECB into signing an notorious deal for 5 Twenty20 internationals involving England and the West Indies. England avid gamers it seems that nonetheless write to him and one West Indian famous person has visited him in prison.
Fraudster Allen Stanford has unfolded completely to Sportsmail at the $20million showdown that shamed cricket
Stanford (centre, backside row) poses with the England cricket staff in 2008
Lives have been irretrievably ruined, lots of his sufferers endure to nowadays, with hundreds of pensioners having misplaced their existence financial savings.
However one way or the other, Stanford sees himself as the largest sufferer of all.
At the telephone from his maximum-security Coleman II federal jail in Sumterville, Florida — house to former USA gymnastics trainer Larry Nassar, jailed for sexually assaulting younger stars, and serial killer Scott Lee Kimball, who is assumed to have murdered as much as 25 other folks — Stanford is in a good temper. His circle of relatives are on how one can consult with.
Earlier than speaking about why he’s the place he’s, he’s keen to speak cricket. This can be a game none of his fellow inmates know anything else about however it was once the car he used to present his financial institution an international platform.
‘Over a time period within the Caribbean, I fell in love with the cricket. I’m no longer a large proponent of Take a look at cricket,’ he tells Sportsmail in a gradual Texan drawl.
‘My first publicity to it was once again when (International Sequence Cricket founder) Kerry Packer was once stirring up the pot. I used to be no longer that enamoured with one thing that may take 5 days and no longer get a outcome.
‘But if I become acutely aware of no longer simply the one-day 50-over fits, however the a lot shorter three-hour model of Twenty20, I may just see its fast utility to the game that would rival the sports activities I grew up with — American soccer, basketball and baseball. And particularly while you pit island in opposition to island, the competition that is going with that, everybody dressed up of their nationwide colors and simply the thrill — it is sort of a giant Mardi Gras parade. We (West Indies) have been the champions of the arena again within the Nineteen Nineties when Viv Richards and the blokes have been taking part in, then we simply fell off.
Stanford created the ‘20/20 for 20’ fit which pitted the Stanford Superstars, made up of West Indies avid gamers, in opposition to an England XI in Antigua in 2008
‘I had a large number of admiration for Kerry Packer. He did issues his approach, he was once an inspiration. He dressed the blokes in red and all this. I sought after to revitalise this game within the Caribbean the place I noticed those younger proficient guys who weren’t given a possibility to broaden and I believed the car of T20 cricket may just do it.’
Australian media rich person Packer, whose tournaments ran between 1977 and 1979, lured the arena’s very best with extravagant pay and laid the blueprint for Stanford.
Stanford rebuilt a floor in Antigua in 2004 for his Stanford 20/20 tournaments, through which Caribbean islands have been pitted in opposition to each and every different in 2006 and 2008. It was once the root to the 2008 Stanford Tremendous Sequence — that includes the Stanford Superstars, made up of West Indies avid gamers, in opposition to an England XI together with Pietersen, Andrew Flintoff and Graeme Swann, all competing in a ‘20/20 for 20’ fit.
It were given its identify from the $20m money pot. The 11 avid gamers at the successful aspect would each and every take house $1m, with $2m break up between control and squad avid gamers and $7m between the England and West Indies cricket forums. The likes of then ECB chairman Giles Clarke, Sir Ian Botham and Sir Viv Richards posed with the Texan on June 11, 2008 as all of them grinned round a stack of notes totalling $20m (then round £10m).
That was once after he casually plonked his helicopter at the House of Cricket turf. ‘Lord’s money touchdown’ was once the headline emblazoned on Sportsmail’s again web page. ‘The English have been very gracious and hospitable, even once I landed a helicopter on Lord’s!’ he chuckles. ‘Which was once no longer my thought. We had a company that was once employed in England to advertise the sequence. We had our advertisements at the black cabs they usually mentioned it might be in reality one thing should you fly this helicopter to Lord’s.
‘They got here up with the theory. I agreed and mentioned, “OK if it’s no longer going to get me in hassle!” It created a large number of hobby.
Stanford’s helicopter lands on Lord’s turf forward of a press convention in 2008
The Texan exits his helicopter after touchdown his helicopter at the House of Cricket turf
‘The whole thing was once a fond reminiscence. For me, that ultimate was once, “We’re going to kick England’s butt. I’ve the most efficient younger avid gamers on this planet and we’re going to display it” and we did play with one of the most confirmed ability like Ramnaresh Sarwan and Chris Gayle and a few rookies.’
England have been thrashed, and pilloried. All out for 99 and a 10-wicket defeat at the pitch, a PR shambles with accusations of greed off it. Just about 14 years on from that iciness, many won’t recall the main points of the fit however will be mindful the goings-on within the stands one week previous, involving the England avid gamers’ other halves and girlfriends all the way through the Middlesex Crusaders v Trinidad and Tobago sport.
Stanford giggles and explains: ‘I had had a couple of beverages which individuals presented me. I used to be in a contented spirit and those younger girls have been sitting in combination. If I had identified they have been the girlfriends and other halves of the avid gamers — I believe one was once in reality pregnant — there is not any approach I might have long past into that beehive!
‘However they mentioned, “Come over right here, we need to get an image”. So I went over and there have been 3 seats and 4 of them and me, so I mentioned I’ll kneel down. They crowded round and mentioned, “Right here, sit down on my knee”.
‘I used to be guffawing and it was once only a glad, light-hearted second you realize and I smiled at them and that was once about it. It more than likely lasted not more than 15 to twenty seconds!
‘In hindsight, if I had identified who those ladies have been, there’s no approach I might have long past over there, simply because I’m good sufficient to grasp that may no longer be a excellent factor public-relations smart.’
Stanford is revelling in mirrored image. Particularly when requested about main avid gamers from that technology — mainly Pietersen. ‘Kevin Pietersen is a firstclass person,’ he beams. ‘Now not most effective was once he an incredible athlete, I believed he was once a firstclass man. Very clever, directly shooter, I believed the arena of him. And the English staff, one of the most outdated avid gamers. Ian Botham and Viv Richards used to have a competition and their tales have been in reality excellent. Flintoff was once any other nice participant.’
Stanford is pictured with a lot of England avid gamers’ other halves and girlfriends all the way through the Middlesex Crusaders v Trinidad and Tobago sport in 2008
If the emotions are reciprocal, indubitably one of the most folks can have stayed involved? ‘Sure, a number of of the avid gamers are involved,’ he says. ‘I don’t know in the event that they would need me to say their names.’
Via telephone calls or letters?
‘Letters. It’s made me really feel superb. I spoke back their questions utterly truthfully and forthright, and we’re nonetheless speaking. Let’s simply say that I’ve were given a number of of the avid gamers that I believe to be expensive and shut pals. With regards to touch the place we now have communicated from side to side and are nonetheless speaking… it’s 8 avid gamers.’
Are any of them English? ‘Neatly (sure), however the majority aren’t.’
It transpires to be one or two England avid gamers from that ultimate, allegedly. One Stanford Superstars participant has even visited him in prison, he claims.
He continues: ‘I’ve had a couple of, what I now believe forged pals, who perceive what has took place and feature been supportive.’
It’s now time to handle the sufferers and the $7bn.
‘The federal government wanted a scapegoat, somebody who was once no longer so politically hooked up… they usually were given me,’ says Stanford. ‘You recognize — vibrant, maverick, billionaire Texan dwelling it huge within the Caribbean. 13 years in a maximum-security jail isn’t probably the most delightful revel in. It’s an abysmal hellhole and you’re additionally in with a bunch of inmates who’re on the upper degree of offences — violence and different issues.’
The roughly 25,000 traders who misplaced thousands and thousands could have opted for one thing a bit of more potent than ‘vibrant’ or ‘maverick’. Arrested in 2009, Stanford was once convicted 3 years later for operating a $7bn Ponzi scheme after prosecutors mentioned he offered fraudulent high-yielding certificate of deposit thru his Antigua-based financial institution.
He’s mentioned to have used traders’ cash to make dangerous investments and fund a lavish way of life over a 20-year duration, constructed at the backs of lecturers, nurses, and firefighters in states reminiscent of Florida, Louisiana and Texas. That integrated six marquee jets, a 112ft sports activities yacht and a large number of mansions and places of work in 16 international locations.
In a Ponzi scheme, an organization draws traders with the promise of huge returns however as an alternative of the usage of their cash in a sound transaction, channels it into returns for previous traders. However point out Ponzi scheme or sufferers and a blast of concern reverberates down the telephone.
‘Are you kidding me? You make me very offended presently!’ the previous billionaire bellows. ‘I didn’t do something flawed, nor did I create any scheme to defraud any one. I’m operating as exhausting as I will be able to to get this conviction thrown out so everyone who misplaced a dime in Stanford World Financial institution is paid again in complete as a result of they aren’t going to get it with the receivership that has been in position for 13 years.
‘You inform me: if it was once a rattling Ponzi scheme, how was once it after 13 years they preserve promoting property? And so they stay paying legal professionals and different pros billions of greenbacks once a year to do not anything however set up one thing that supposedly broke?
Stanford is surrounded via officers and previous cricket stars as they pose in entrance of a field containing $20million
‘The place’s all this cash coming from? There have been 240 financial institution accounts that my firms care for international — the receiver were given most effective 26 of them.’
He continues: ‘Those (sufferers) who’ve contacted me, I’ve written again to them and mentioned, “I’m doing the entirety I will be able to to get out of this example and once I do, you’re going to receives a commission in complete, we will be able to make this proper”.’
How about providing an apology to the sufferers?
‘In the event you didn’t do one thing and somebody mentioned, “You probably did do one thing that was once a in reality, in reality horrible factor”, would you apologise to them? Would you assert, “I’m so sorry, I didn’t imply to do it?”
‘I will be able to most effective let you know that I used to be very on the subject of victory in court docket. At this time I’ve a case within the Excellent Court docket of the USA. They’re taking the convention at the June 23. And this example goes to turn as soon as and for the entire flawed that was once completed. I’ll completely be a billionaire as soon as once more.’
Dialog strikes directly to any other debatable outsider seeking to shake up game: LIV Golfing. First, Stanford likens Saudi cash with Nike and the Nationwide Basketball Affiliation (NBA).
‘The complaint is that the Saudis don’t seem to be superb with their human rights,’ he says. ‘All I do know is that the NBA, and Nike, are tied in as tight as you’ll get with China. And we all know what China’s file has been on human rights — it has no longer been superb. I believe the Saudi funding in game could be very attention-grabbing.’
He stretches out the phrase ‘very’ with laughter interspersed. His tone additional livens up when requested in regards to the new golfing sequence. ‘I believe for a event that no person even heard of, and the prize cash on be offering, it’s beautiful, beautiful astounding,’ he exudes.
‘The avid gamers they have got been ready to enroll, like Phil Mickelson, and other folks mentioned they’re a host of rattling opportunists — why do you suppose they’re taking part in?
The American poses with Stanford Superstars following their victory over England XI on the finish of the Stanford 20/20 Tremendous Sequence fit in Antigua
Chris Gayle (left) of the Superstars is awarded a cheque of $20million via Stanford in 2008
‘They’re going in the market to play golfing to become profitable and that’s what it’s all about for them, and I believe the PGA hasn’t ever had a competitor. What you spot is a similarity (to Stanford 20/20) in that it’s going to shake up golfing like not anything has shaken golfing up in recent years. I believe the PGA are shaking of their boots presently.’
We’re greater than an hour into the interview and his circle of relatives at the moment are ready within the visiting space.
However as ever, Stanford desires the general say. He concludes: ‘What I did (for cricket), like Kerry Packer, was once other. It was once flamboyant, maverick, and I used to be striking the cash the place my mouth was once. I had the platform, the tv, I constructed all of it a number of years earlier than I used to be in a position to release it. That led to other folks to consider cricket otherwise as a sport. I don’t have any doubt that I did create extra of an hobby in T20 cricket.
‘The fit was once a perfect fit, and the price of cricket has been confirmed. I’ve been maintaining with the monetary posture of cricket — India added two new groups to the IPL they usually have been required to pay on the subject of one thousand million bucks for each and every staff.’
And, must his enchantment prevail, he nonetheless isn’t ruling out an out of this world go back to cricket.
‘I’m very stunned somebody hasn’t taken what I nonetheless consider is a imaginative and prescient for T20 that also hasn’t been fulfilled,’ he provides. ‘And that fulfilment to me is within the Caribbean the place you’ve this distinctive platform of what I in-built Antigua. It was once in reality one in all a sort.’