Greg James leads the investigation for Sport's Strangest Crimes in 'Allen Stanford - The Man Who Bought Cricket'. Money laundering, the FBI, drug cartels and some cricket.
Coming soon to Sport's Strange Crimes...
Money laundering, the FBI, drug cartels, Ponzi schemes, extra marital affairs, off shore banks, and of course some cricket.
For the past 12 months, Greg James has been trying to find out who exactly is Allen Stanford.
Lord's 2008. The most sacred ground in cricket had never witnessed anything like it. Across the London skyline a helicopter appeared and slowly descended onto the hallowed turf. From within emerged a tall, brash Texan who was greeted by the great and the good of cricket. With him was a box of money, and not just a few quid....$20 million. The man was Allen Stanford and he had an audacious plan to revolutionise the game of cricket. One match for $20 million - winner takes all, the loser gets nothing. But who exactly was Allen Stanford, why was he willing to splash out $20 million and why was he being entertained by the English cricketing authorities?
Meanwhile thousands of miles away in the USA, unbeknown to those gathered at Lord's, a file with Allen Stanford's name was passed to the FBI.
Greg James sets off on his journey to tell the real story of Allen Stanford - The Man Who Bought Cricket.
EP2: The Wild West
England's mens cricketers are preparing for a match that could change their lives forever. A one-off game that could net them $1 million each with one run, wicket or catch. It's a unique and extraordinary sporting prospect bankrolled by Allen Stanford. But how? Wasn't he just a washed up business failure from Texas?
After the collapse of his gym business Allen is declared bankrupt. However a chance meeting with a mysterious European traveller in the Caribbean reveals a surprising new business venture in offshore banking on the island of Montserrat - a place known as the 'Wild West of Banking'. Stanford targets money from Latin America with clients seeking a safe haven for their finances away from corrupt governments at home.
However the activities of Stanford's business dealings soon alert the attention of both the FBI and Scotland Yard, with both having suspicions that is all is not above board. In episode two of 'Sports Strangest Crimes: Allen Stanford - The Man Who Bought Cricket' , Greg James continues on his quest to find out who exactly Allen Stanford was and the truth behind his business empire.
After leaving the island of Montserrat, Allen moves his growing banking empire to the newly independent island of Antigua. Here he quickly realises that cricket is THE sport in the Caribbean, the game that everyone loves and follows and hatches a plan to invest in a new T20 tournament in the West Indies. He invests millions of dollars, signs up the greats of Windies cricket and sets the ball rolling on his cricket revolution.
However while his banking business appears to be blossoming with thousands of customers investing hundreds of millions of dollars, behind the scenes law enforcement operations are still concerned and continue investigating the Texan and his operations. There are rumours of money laundering, bribery, lax accounting and even 'blood oaths' with senior regulators. Yet nothing seems to be able to stop Allen Stanford. He is the Lord of the Manor in Antigua and now he has his eye on revolutionising the game of cricket.
EP4: The Match
Antigua, 1st November, 2008. Months after landing his helicopter on the Nursery Ground at Lord's, complete with a box of cash in tow, Allen Stanford's dream is now a reality. The waiting and talking is over.
One cricket match for $20 million. The winning players will walk away with a cool $1 million each, the losers will get absolutely nothing. One catch, one wicket or one run could be the difference between winning a life changing amount of money or leaving the field with nothing. According to one player the pressure made him 'feel sick'.
It was The Stanford Superstars versus England for a unique and groundbreaking cricket match organised and bankrolled by the billionaire banking magnate Sir Allen Stanford. The coverage would be beamed around the world as cricket fans across the globe prepared themselves for a cricket match like no other.
However away from the glitz, glamour and headlines of a match likened to the 'OK Corral', there were growing concerns amongst some players. What would happen to squad players who didn't make the starting XI, should they get any money? What about coaches, physios, analysts and other team members?
The concept of Allen's match might have looked simple on paper, but things are not always what they seem.
After the groundbreaking $20 million cricket match, Allen Stanford was headline news across the cricketing world and beyond. He had delivered on his proposal to create a unique piece of sporting theatre, a cricket match the like of which had never been seen before. So as England's mens cricketers headed home following their defeat in the million dollar match, their counterparts in the West Indies celebrated their victory.
However away form the celebrations in Antigua a couple of former Stanford employees have started a chain of events that could have huge implications for Stanford and his huge business empire. But billionaires don't shy away from a fight, especially when everything could be at stake. Sensing danger Allen employs all the tools at his disposal to try and stop the whistleblowers in their tracks.
Series 2 is excellent
I’ve given series 1 a pass based on the less than Stella reviews but series 2 is a very engaging, tightly edited and well presented dive into the extraordinary downfall of Stanford and his links to cricket.
Perhaps this would have been a more engaging podcast, and as a result would be taken more seriously, had the host not put on silly little voices and tried to be a comedian whilst telling the story. He’s an insufferable idiot. It’s such a shame as the subject matter is so interesting, but it has been ruined by the man-child in charge; the Father Dougal Maguire of podcasting. Also, what’s with the annoying music playing behind the scenes? It’s annoyingly distracting. This ought to have been so much better. Instead, it’s just bloody awful. Avoid!
Trying to hard to be funny
I enjoyed the storyline and the guest but the presenter was trying too hard to be funny with little gags which just weren’t. They didn’t suit the style or flow of the story.