Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pirates of the Caribbean: Stanford, drugs and the CIA (updated)

So far, this blog has neglected our nation's most infamous lost-and-found Texan, Sir Allen Stanford. You've probably read about him elsewhere, but you may not know the juicier details -- by which I mean the narco stuff and the CIA stuff.

Yes, he's American, and yes, that really is his name. Before taking French leave (the FBI caught up with him at his girlfriend's home), he bilked investors of some $8 billion. He did this, in part, by establishing Stanford International Bank, run by family members and cronies and located in the Caribbean.

According to the SEC, the bank
sold approximately $8bn worth of certificates of deposit to investors, promising "improbable and unsubstantiated high interest rates"
You may remember an old adage, oft-heard during the S&L debacle: The best way to rob a bank is to own one. His shennanigans may cause a region-wide upheaval:
"The fallout threatens catastrophic and immediate consequences" for the twin-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, said Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer. It also could rattle the economies of smaller nations throughout the region.
As you may recall, Stanford was mentioned in yesterday's column, which quoted a rag I like to call the Irritable Bowel Daily. The IBD begged us not to judge capitalism by his example, a request that gave me a hankering to judge capitalism by his example. More than that: I suspect that Mr. Stanford got by with "a little help from his friends." Y'see, I happen to be of the opinion that the average kid born in Mexia, Texas won't grow up to operate a con on that august level unless, somewhere along the way, he makes some powerful allies.

How powerful? Here's a teaser:
On Thursday, more details were also disclosed on about Sir Allen's links with leading politicians in Washington, where he has spent more than £5 million wooing lobbyists and politicians in recent years, including donations of £22,000 to Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

The President's aides said the money had been donated to charity as a result of the allegations.
The Obot pooh-poohing of that uncomfortable factoid will follow a very predictable pattern. (No need to say it, bots. Yes, I know that McCain got money too. Yes, I know that Those Evil, Evil Clintons probably did far worse in your eyes.) Still, it strikes me as odd that a good ol' boy running an operation with a stateside base in Houston would favor Obi and the "new Democrats"...
The Stanford Financial Group, through its political action committee and employees, has contributed $2.4 million to political candidates, parties and committees in the U.S. since 1989, with nearly two-thirds going to Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a group that tracks campaign spending...

Stanford and his wife Susan also donated $931,100 of their own money, with 78 percent going to Democrats, including $4,600 to President Barack Obama's presidential campaign last May 31. Records show $2,300 of that was returned on the same day.
Four years or so ago, Stanford was the kind of guy whom Tom Delay and Bob Ney could count on for contributions to their defense funds. Yet the same fellow tosses a million bucks at Democrats. In fact, he was lionized as a hero at the DNC convention in Denver. What does Stanford's endorsement say about the new nature of the party I once considered my political home?

Amusingly, this same Sir Allen Stanford appeared as a talking head on CNBC, where he gave sage counsel on the state of the economy.

Here's where it gets really interesting. Stanford also owned not one but two airlines: Caribbean Sun Airlines, headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Caribbean Star Airlines, based in Antigua. The two entities are, we are told, unrelated.

Well, if you're a long-time reader, you can probably guess what I'm thinking. Oddball airlines...Florida...the by a politically well-connected shady operator... Paging Daniel Hopsicker!

Check out this Q&A:
Q: Why was Stanford so successful in Latin America?

A: In part because the region has a history of bank failures, hyperinflation and political instability. The rise of populist governments such as Chavez and Ecuador's Rafael Correa have left wealthier residents worried the government could snatch their savings.

Peru, which has extensive illegal coca cultivation, has begun investigating possible links to narcotrafficking. The government of Colombia, the world's largest cocaine producer, has not mentioned any such investigation.
Let's take it further. From the Independent:
More than 20 years ago, the authorities repeatedly probed Allen Stanford’s alleged links to some of the world’s biggest and most powerful drug lords. Despite no fewer than five investigations into suspected drug money laundering by law enforcers ranging from Scotland Yard to the FBI, no charges were ever brought.
Let this sink in. The American authorities have thought for the past two decades that this guy was involved in drugs. Yet he was allowed to run an airline service between Florida and the Caribbean.

Why doesn't Stanford simply drive off to old Mexico? (He's not under arrest -- yet.) Because he might run into some folks whom he fears more than he fears Uncle Sam...
Cricket tycoon Sir Allen Stanford may have been stumped by the FBI but there are far worse fates than having your bails removed... Agents claim he is more worried over alleged links to a Mexican drug gang, which beheads and mutilates victims, than he is about being found by the authorities.

Sir Allen, FBI sources say, is suspected of money laundering for the "Gulf Cartel" and the crooks may fear for their funds.
One official said: "He just seemed resigned and possibly relieved. There is a strong suspicion he was using his Caribbean-based operation to filter crime money. It's not improbable that some of his lesser-known clients may want to have a talk with him."

It has been claimed Mexican authorities recently seized one of the 58-year-old's aircraft after allegedly finding cheques on board linked to the Gulf Cartel.
Basically, he was laundering money for Mexico's Gulf Cartel. And yes, his airlines were part of the operation...
Allen Stanford’s office and banking buildings on Antigua were constructed conveniently close to the airport. According to the local rumour, certain aircraft didn’t have to clear customs in exactly the same manner as most others.
A number of stories refer to the Mexican authorities detaining Stanford's plane and finding the (possibly) incriminating checks. So far, no article known to me puts a date on this occasion. I am just cynical enough to suspect that the Mexicans would not target a billionaire's aircraft -- and look for something so small as a check -- unless they had been tipped off, or unless someone had not received a pay-off. We've seen this sort of thing before.

One article alleges that the SEC action may have impeded the drugs investigation. I can't blame the SEC. It was a pretty damned long-running investigation -- even the Mexicans were ahead of us! -- and the SEC could not wait forever.

Update: The Houston Chronicle has been doing great work on this story.
In the late 1990s, according to court documents, operatives of the Juarez cartel began opening accounts at Stanford’s Antigua-based bank in an effort to launder money amassed under one of Mexico’s most vicious drug lords, Amado Carrillo Fuentes. Together, they used Stanford International Bank to open 10 accounts and deposit $3 million — a small sliver of the cartel’s fortunes but enough to pique authorities’ interest.

Now, more than a decade later, federal sources tell the Chronicle, any alleged Stanford connection to drug cartels and their money could lie buried in the paperwork gathered for the Security and Exchange Commission’s civil inquiry.
So. Perhaps the SEC action could bury the investigation in the drugs?

Okay, I know what you're dying to ask: Where's the CIA connection? With a tale like this one, you just know that the spooks must be lurking in the background.

Happy to oblige. Here's a story from last November...
Officials from Venezuelan military intelligence raided a branch of his [Stanford's] offshore bank over claims that its employees were paid by the CIA to spy on the south American country.
State-owned broadcaster Venezolana TV reported that the raid was part of an investigation into individuals it said had "allegedly committed the crime of espionage" and "may have been part of the US government".

It is understood the spying claims centre on three of the bank's employees and in particular its head of security, who had previously worked for the US federal government. He was first accused of being a CIA spy when he was hired by Stanford just over two years ago.
At the time, the few observers who noticed the story laughed it off as an attention-seeking ploy by Chavez. But there's more from the Business Insider, which asks: Is Allen Stanford An Asset Of The CIA?.
As we noted earlier, a federal agency killed the SEC's investigation into Allen Stanford back in 2006. We don't know which one it is, but some commenters suspect it could've been the CIA.
Let's posit, for the moment, that the suspicions voiced above (by a business writer, not by a conspiracy crank) are valid. Let's suppose that the CIA shut down the 2006 investigation because Stanford was helping the Agency penetrate Venezuela. What conclusions should we draw from the fact that a guy like this suddenly decided that Barack Obama would make a really good president?

Snob appeal: One of the amusing aspects of this tale is Sir Allen's rather pathetic affection for the trappings of aristocracy. Although he is the grandson of a barber in Mexia, Texas (not far from Waco), he developed a passion for the veddy English sport of cricket. (The cricket world considered him vulgar.) He pretended to have a familial link to Leland Stanford, founder of the famous university. (The link seems to be a figment of Sir Allen's imagination.) And even though his "knighthood" comes from a shadowy order in Antigua, he always encouraged people to call him Sir.

I once corresponded with someone who had worked with a fake "order of knighthood," which handed out patents of nobility for a price. (Although I won't name the order, I'll mention that the snakey fellow running it also makes a fortune selling crappy "hidden history" books about sacred bloodlines and similar rot.) My informant said that the primary customers for this knighthood scam were pretentious, well-off Americans, not Europeans.

Hey, I would be overjoyed to sell you a title, if a title would help you with your self-esteem issues. And for a mere $500, I'll sell you a box filled with premium-grade blue sky. We're talkin' top quality stuff here, folks...


Anonymous said...

I always wonder in these cases where they get the $8 billion number from, and where it went.

In the Enron meltdown people said they lost millions when the stock price flatlined, but in reality the stock was grossly overvalued in the first place. They lost whatever money they put in, not what they would have got from selling the stock when it was at peak value.

Anyone who sold Enron at overinflated value profited from the fraud, even if they were unaware of it at the time. The person that bought the stock was left holding the bag and lost whatever money they put in.

So did Stanford's victims invest $8 billion or did they invest a lesser sum and just think their investments had increased to $8 billion?

Either way, where did the money go? It's virtually impossible to spend that kind of money and have nothing to show for it. The interest accumulates faster than you can spend it on a lavish lifestyle.

If he gambled it away then the casinos got it, if he played the stock market then some Wall Street types have it.

I'm gonna guess it was some smarter con men that got most of it. Ponzi schemes can be very profitable if you get in early and cash out before it collapses.

Perhaps we need to change the law so the people who cashed out early from a pyramid scheme have to disgorge their unjust enrichment?

Anonymous said...

I have said since working in Iowa last year as a co-captain of a large caucus..for Edwards..there are no two parties..only one big party..with a very large money pot in the middle! What I saw made me sick. And Oblahblahs campaign made me sickest!

Please if you haven't read "Barry and the Boys" by Daniel Hopsicker..make it a point to do so..and "WELCOME to TERRORLAND" ALSO BY
It is a must reading!!

Anonymous said...

This is my ex-wife's family "buddy" and partner in drug smuggling ton's of Cocaine. And YES there are many FAMILIES involved including my ex-wife's family plus Clyde O'Connor's family. And YES they consider themselves as a CIA Asset too as bragged to me when I questioned my brother-in-law as to why he isn't concerned about being prosecuted even if it involves murder. Which by the way, they have commutted murder too and all of them were called "Accidents".

I had to laugh when reading about quoting the SEC. My God, hasn't anyone figured out yet that the SEC corrupt element is in bed with these guys. Wake up! It's all one big happy family of Greedy So and So's.

These corrupt Federal Government groups, if we still listened to them, would have us running around in circles forever. Then I read about the FBI... There's something I know but am not allowed to talk about yet but it involves a corrupt element as well and is one reason why the FBI investigations didn't go anywhere either. More happy family members?

But does anyone remember some of my earlier posts? It's important to realize that all of this stuff is again linked to something even bigger. Even though there is huge greed involved the proceeds were being used to FUND Black Op's. Remember that as besides the planes there is are also Armies of people supporting many aspects of the drug system. This also includes although not surfaced yet, a complete functioning credit/debit system to make sure everyone pays. Remember, you don't make money unless your products are paied for.

This will be another huge surprise and may even surface a few Mega Churches too. Gee, did I suggest that God may be involved? Everyone is going to be surprised with this one. I witnessed while sitting in a Men's meeting early Sunday morning, the head Minister send a job purusing guy directly to the criminals in charge of arranging the weekly Truck of $100 million from Texas. He started his new job the next week. The DEA and my family called the truck "the Pepper Truck" and it was busted in early 2003.

Remember also that I said in many posts that I was told in the 90's about 911. 911 was an inside job and my ex-wifes family knew all about it as well as other State Sponsored Terrorism acts - BEFORE THEY HAPPENED. In 1996 they hadn't made up their minds where 911 was going to happen as they were still looking at three sites.

Also, the Detention Camps were discussed, only back then they were called Prisons. I may not have talked about what was planned for the Prisons as it's too scary but maybe another time might be best.

From what the family talked about during the 90's, Obama was thought to have setup the families airshipping business in Florida while he worked at the law Firm. Also, Obama was then considered to be by the criminal system "A Budding Shining Star" and expected to reach high levels of Politics for them.

In closing, my youngest son, to my dismay is directly invloved with Rezko thanks to the family's involvement in corruption and drug smuggling.

There's a whole lot more to talk about but it's best for another time.

Marty Didier
Northbrook, IL

Howling Latina said...

TPM Muckraker breathlessly reported that in 2005 more than a few lawmakers took a Caribbean junket with Allen Stanford. The guest list included Katherine Harris, Tom Feeney and others. TPM has a picture of the good ol' boys getting off what looked like a tour bus.

The really interesting thing about the trip and pic is that standing by the bus door was Obama's best bud, good ol' Honest race-baiter Jim Clyburn.

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