Stanford Fraud Allegations Rock Antigua

R. Allen Stanford was knighted by the Caribbean island of Antigua after he became the nation's largest private employer. But after Stanford got caught up in an alleged $8 billion financial fraud, islanders are extremely concerned about their financial future. Winston Derrick, who runs the Daily Observer, Antigua's largest newspaper, discusses the case.

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JACKI LYDEN, host:

Welcome back to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.

If Bernie Madoff was the $50 billion man, Robert Allen Stanford may be the $8 billion knight. That's how much the Securities and Exchange Commission accused Stanford of bilking from investors this week. A big chunk of that money went through Antigua, the Caribbean nation almost as famous for its tax havens as its beach havens.

Stanford was knighted there. Sir Allen is a huge promoter of the sport of cricket, and he's the island's biggest private employer. Among his holdings are a bank, nightclubs and a newspaper.

On the line with us now is the publisher of Antigua's other major newspaper, the Daily Observer.

Winston Derrick, you've got quite a story to cover there.

Mr. WINSTON DERRICK (Publisher, Daily Observer): Well, it's an interesting story, confusing. It's a little difficult to follow because there's not very much information. You know, we have people going out of business down here. We have also the persons who have money in, say, Bank of Antigua. And you're hearing all these stories about - he's stolen all this money, you're wondering if it's your money he's taken.

LYDEN: Are there other people on the island like Mr. Stanford, other out-of-towners who cut a big swath?

Mr. DERRICK: Not like Allen Stanford. We - you know, we have a lot of wealthy people who come and hang out here in Antigua. It's a playground for a lot of wealthy people. If we were to walk down the road and see President Obama, it wouldn't be a big deal for us because we're accustomed to seeing celebrities. And I think that's what people like about Antigua, is - it doesn't really matter who you are. You know, you can assimilate very easily.

LYDEN: Now, Mr. Stanford really brought the island to prominence in cricket, didn't he?

Mr. DERRICK: You know, cricket matches last for five days. What he promoted, a shortened version, a more television-friendly form of the game of cricket. And they had a big match, a big payday match, where the winning team, everybody got a million dollars. It was like the winner-take-all kind of thing. And they played England for this thing. And the West Indies beat England.

I believe some of the guys actually have their money still in Stanford bank, frozen.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LYDEN: With all the global economic trouble, does Antigua now see stormy weather ahead?

Mr. DERRICK: Of course, we do. It's been affecting us. With all these people losing jobs in America and things like that, that means that we have fewer people coming to visit. The hotels don't have as much going on as they normally do. You know, everything has a trickle-down effect.

This thing with Stanford is going to have a tremendous effect on Antigua because as all these assets, when all the money runs out and all these freezes come into play, what's going to happen to all these people that work in his restaurants? What happens to the people who work and look after the grounds and the gardens around the airport that is (unintelligible) Stanford operation - all the security people that work there, the people that work in construction? We're going to have a pretty rough time of it, you know?

LYDEN: Winston Derrick is the publisher of Antigua's largest newspaper, the Daily Observer, and he spoke to us by phone from the capital city of St. John's.

Thank you, Mr. Derrick.

Mr. DERRICK: You're welcome, Jacki. Take care.

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