Books about Anguilla


Tuesday, 24 February 2009

The sports world and the financial services industry are no more buddies

Sponsorship for a high-profile event or team was envisaged as a great way for a financial institution or investment firm to attract new customers. But the list of financial firms globally that have been tarnished by receiving federal (tax-payers) bailout funds, filing for bankruptcy or going through scandals is now unbounded, leaving the sports world in the lurch as it works to replace lost sponsorships.

The latest blow was delivered when the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) came down against the chairman of the Stanford Financial Group, Sir Allen Stanford. Sir Allen has a number of high-profile sports partners, including the NBA's Miami Heat, English Premier League star Michael Owen and the WTA’s Sony Ericsson Open, the LPGA Tour and golf's PGA Tour - which has used Stanford as a sponsor of the St. Jude Championship in Memphis. His tentacles are far reached.

In June, 2008, Sir Allen landed on the sacred turf of Lord's in a black helicopter bearing a crateful of replica US$ dollars, before making good on his promise to the ECB and the WBC to inject tens of millions into a high-stakes tournament on Antigua. After been our saviour of the game of cricket, why should these boards now cut off their noses that completed their faces? Sir Allen has done more with ‘his money’ for the game of cricket, specifically in the Caribbean, than the combined Caribbean territories dreamt.

It was disturbing on a ‘Treasury-Bills and Development-Bonds legislation Bill’ debate, to listen to our ill-informed, political-prostitute legislator, the Hon. Edison Baird, dismissing Sir Allen with loose claptrap purely on accusations. According to Mr. Baird in the House the other day, Sir Allen was already convicted even though not arrested. Eddy!… a man is innocent until proven guilty in a competent court of law… not on accusations.

Interestingly however, have you wondered that it was only when the SEC accused Sir Allen of engaging in a massive ongoing fraud of a shocking magnitude that the British realised that he might not be playing with a straight bat? And why should ‘Citigroup’ received billions in bailout money, plus guarantees to cover losses on hundreds of billions of dollars in risky investments while the SEC is trying to bring an end to the ‘Stanford Financial Group’ who didn’t even ask for government’s bailout? Given Sir Allen tentacles, I am sure that the ‘world’ was prepared to help if and when he did decide.

Consider this! In the late Sixties, some of the Caribbean islands as they were breaking away from the British Empire and becoming independent nations; these tiny colonies were set adrift in a vast ocean, rudderless with no viable future. How were they supposed to survive? Creatively they would survive by turning themselves into tax havens. Is that corruption?

Justifiably or not, colonial guilt still haunts the British. Quite evident is the immoral policy of successive British governments encouraging existing British territories and former colonies to become or remain centres of money laundering.

The US Congress last year identified thirty-four (34) tax havens for the wealthy of which Britain still controls nine (9) of them - Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, Guernsey/Sark/Alderney, the Isle of Man, Jersey and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Fifteen (15) are former British colonies - Antigua, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, the Cook Islands, Cyprus, Dominica, Grenada, Hong Kong, Malta, Nauru, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and Singapore. Cyprus, Malta and Singapore became tax havens of their own accord and the Cook Islands are more New Zealand's responsibility than Britain's. But especially in the Caribbean, Britain is noted for the transformation of colonial and post-colonial territories into receivers of stolen goods.

This British guilt allows the profits from the drugs trade to be recycled. This guilt also means, that when desperate governments need desperate cash in a hurry, the odds are that they will turn to tycoons who have built their fortunes free from the interference of regulators and tax inspectors… and it’s legal. So… where is the corruption?

Survival sometimes demands creativity, reinventionism and unconventionism, sometimes illegal… which is then regulated through nepotism…

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“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity” – MLK.