It was an iconic and now infamous moment as Allen Stanford’s helicopter touched down on the perfectly trimmed grass of Lord’s, the home of English cricket. But the alarm bells should already have been ringing in the ground’s panelled corridors as the aircraft, with its gold flashes and the Stanford name emblazoned along its flanks, emerged from the clouds over London.
Despite its impressive logos, there was no Stanford company helicopter. Nor was there a $20 million jackpot in the treasure chest that the beaming Texan showed off to the world —
the “prize money” that he had pledged for the first in a series of Twenty20 matches between his own West Indian Stanford Superstars and England.
The helicopter had been hired for the day and the Stanford logo added by the hire company.
There could have been as little as $100,000 in the box that had been driven into Lord’s in an armoured security van with a phalanx of burly guards. The stories about Stanford, Madoff et al are utterly compelling, not least because they encapsulate so much about the economic mirage of the past decade. You've got to wonder how much more fakery and deception will be be exposed by the downturn.