Anyone who subscribes to the full-of-integrity Tennis Channel is well familiar with The Stanford Champions Cup. It's a bunch of tournaments where old fogeys like Jim Courier, John McEnroe, Todd Martin, and Jimmy Arias duke it to prove to America that it's not fun watching old people kill themselves.
The Champions Cup, as well as a few other big name tournaments such as the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, is sponsored by R. Allen Stanford, a Texas billionaire. Well Sir Stanford, who was a U.S. citizen who eventually got citizen ship in Antigua & Barbados and was knighted (gotta love Texans, man), has been accused by the Federal Government of "massive fraud":
"We are alleging a fraud of shocking magnitude that has spread its tentacles throughout the world," said Rose Romero, regional director of the SEC's office in Fort Worth, Texas [Seriously, gotta love Texans].
The SEC complaint named Stanford International Bank (SIB), based in Antigua with 30,000 clients in 131 countries and $8.5 billion in assets, and the group's Houston-based broker-dealer and investment adviser units.
In all, the company claims to oversee $50 billion in assets....
The SEC said Stanford's Antigua-based bank sold $8 billion in certificates of deposit "by promising high return rates that exceed those available through true certificates of deposits offered by traditional banks."
Holding dual U.S.-Antiguan citizenship, Stanford lived for more than 20 years in the reef-girded island, where he owns the country's largest newspaper, heads a local commercial bank, is the biggest private employer, its top investor and is the first American to receive a knighthood from its government.
He has homes sprinkled across the region -- from Antigua to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands to Miami.
"Everybody always wondered where he got his money from," said Odessa Haley, 28, a manager of a cafe in the island's capital St. John's.
Many feared the U.S. charges would revive Antigua's image as one of the Caribbean's most corrupt nations, which local policy makers took pains to shake off in the 1990s.
Others feared the economic fallout. "A lot of people work for him," said Francis Cortwright, a taxi driver.
There were no signs of imminent criminal charges against Stanford, whose personal fortune was estimated by Forbes Magazine last year at $2.2 billion. A Justice Department spokesman would not confirm or deny the existence of a criminal investigation.
But Peter Henning, a professor at Wayne State University Law School in Michigan and a former federal prosecutor, said U.S. prosecutors have likely filed a sealed criminal indictment against Stanford to be unveiled at a later time.
"The amount of money involved indicates there will be criminal interest in this, as well as the number of potential victims involved," Henning said.
So all in all, a pretty good week for tennis.