US diplomats expressed concern about the business dealings of Allen Stanford three years before the collapse of his financial empire amid allegations of fraud, according the latest leaked embassy cables posted on the WikiLeaks website.
The Guardian, which has been publishing details of the cables, said the US embassy in Barbados raised the issue in a cable dated May 3 2006 after the ambassador attended a breakfast meeting with Stanford and Barbados' prime minister.
The disclosure potentially raises fresh questions about the wisdom of the England and Wales Cricket Board to sign a deal in 2008 with the financier for England to play five Twenty20 matches against the West Indies for a £12 million prize.
In February 2009, Stanford was charged by the US Securities and Exchange Commission with multiple violations of US securities laws in an alleged "massive" 8bn-dollar fraud.
The 2006 embassy cable noted: "Allen Stanford is a controversial Texan billionaire who has made significant investments in offshore finance, aviation, and property development in Antigua and throughout the region. His companies are rumoured to engage in bribery, money-laundering and political manipulation."
A comment appended to the cable added: "Embassy officers do not reach out to Stanford because of the allegations of bribery and money-laundering. The ambassador managed to stay out of any one-on-one photos with Stanford during the breakfast."
Another cable revealed that billionaire businessman Sir Richard Branson said British entrepreneurs were "overeducated" and that schools did not prepare people for entering the business world.
Meanwhile WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has criticised leaking of details of the sex assault charges he faces in Sweden - which were also published in The Guardian, saying it was intended to undermine his application for bail while he faced extradition proceedings.
"The leak was clearly designed to undermine my bail application," he said in an interview with The Times.
"Someone in authority clearly intended to keep Julian in prison."
Assange said he did not believe the leaks of cables would prevent diplomats speaking freely to their bosses in future.
"They just have to start committing things to paper that they are proud of," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
"We are bringing in some important change about what's perceived to be the rights of people to expose abuse by powerful corporations and then to resist censorship and attacks after the event."Reuse content