The Business On... Allen Stanford, Cricket-loving financier

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The Independent Online

'Sir' Allen to you, surely?

Ah, those were the days. Antigua did indeed confer a knighthood on the brash Texan, for services to the island's economy and its cricket. That was back when he lived the life of an international playboy, showering millions on sports stars and bouncing girlfriends of the England cricket team on his knee.

And now?

Now he is a remand prisoner in the US. His Antiguan bank is alleged to have run an international Ponzi scheme unmatched in size by anyone except Bernie Madoff.

How embarrassing.

Not just for Antigua. When Mr Stanford landed $20m in banknotes in a transparent chest at Lords in 2008, as prize money for Twenty20 cricket, the England and Wales Cricket Board was derided for being uncouth. Looks even worse now.

But is he guilty?

He says not, and the 21 fraud charges go to a jury in Houston next January. He says any book-cooking was done by his deputy, an old college roommate of his, who has pleaded guilty.

So there'll be a vigorous defence?

Well, here's the problem. He is having a spot of bother paying for good lawyers. He has been through several attorneys already, and after $15m so far, his legal liability insurance is refusing to cough up any more.

That's tough.

He is suing Lloyd's of London in Houston this week. The judge has let him have one hand out of cuffs so he can handle documents.

How is that case going?

It's too early to call, but since the Lloyd's argument is that it needn't pay because Mr Stanford is guilty of money laundering, it's a juicy little case, and a preview of what we can expect in January. So far we have heard from accountants who found large chunks of depositors' money ended up secretly invested in Mr Stanford's own companies.

So not good, then?

Well, let's just say he looks more in need of expensive lawyers than ever.