ECB  asked to return Stanford millions

London, February 4, 2011

English cricket chiefs have been told to return millions of dollars they received from controversial businessman Allen Stanford or face legal action.

Texan financier Stanford, whose business empire has collapsed, has been charged with running a seven billion dollar ‘Ponzi’ fraud by US authorities.

According to lawyers working for Stanford receiver Ralph Janvey, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) could be taken to court if it does not return to creditors millions of dollars it received from Stanford.

The ECB, in an attempt to provide its leading players with an enticing alternative to the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL), joined forces with Stanford three years ago and received $3.5 million as part of a $100 million deal for a series of T20 matches.

Janvey has started to probe other sporting bodies and lawyer Kevin Sadler, who is working for the receiver, told the Daily Telegraph: “Any entity (or person) which received payments from the Stanford Ponzi scheme is subject to a claim for fraudulent transfer, unless the recipient can prove that the payment was received in good faith and that reasonably equivalent value was given in exchange for the payments.

“Payments made for the purpose of promoting the Stanford business image to the public would not pass the legal test of reasonably equivalent value.”

The ECB, who refused to comment on Thursday’s statement, have always insisted they acted properly in their dealings with Stanford.

ECB chairman Giles Clarke, speaking after Stanford’s arrest two years ago, said: “We entered into the Stanford transaction in good faith.

“Like many sporting bodies, we carried out our side of the contract and he carried out his and we were paid. We then passed those funds on, to the benefit of the game.”

Cricket traditionalists were appalled though by the sight of an England team taking part in such nakedly commercial T20 matches that climaxed with a winner-takes all $20 million clash in Antigua.

England suffered a 10-wicket thrashing by the Stanford Superstars, effectively a West Indies select XI, in the 2008 final of what should have been the first of five Super Series finals but turned out to be the only edition of the tournament before Stanford’s arrest.

Several sportsmen, including England cricketer Kevin Pietersen, could also have their individual dealings with Stanford investigated by the administrator.

The pair were recruited as Stanford ‘ambassadors’ as were several former West Indies cricketers including Vivian Richards and Curtly Ambrose.

Stanford was last month declared unfit to stand trial, with a US judge ruling he needed treatment for drug addiction but refusing to release the 60-year-old because he was still a “flight risk”.