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ECB says Stanford deal appeared solid

England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke has defended the ECB’s partnership with Texan billionaire Sir Allen Stanford who was Tuesday charged in an investment fraud scheme.

The ECB, along with the West Indies Cricket Board, signed a deal with Sir Allen last June to stage the multi-million dollar Stanford Twenty20 Challenge over the next five years but Clarke said that at the time, their checks had revealed nothing improper.

“He was conducting a banking operation, which, at the time, based on the information from the work that was done, showed no indication that there was anything that could prevent him from paying his obligations,” Clarke was quoted as saying, as news broke that United States financial regulators had put Sir Allen at the centre of an US$8 billion investment fraud scheme.

“We did what we did because we believed we were doing the right thing to raise funds for West Indies cricket and, indeed, our own game.”

The highlight of the Twenty20 Challenge was the US$20 million, winners-take-all “Twenty20 for 20” match in Antigua where Stanford Superstars beat England in November to become instant millionaires.

The ECB was also expected to partner with the Antigua-based businessman to put on a quadrangular tournament involving the Stanford Superstars, Sri Lanka and New Zealand later this year.

Clarke said, however, with negotiations with Sir Allen now halted, the tournament was in obvious jeopardy.

“We will clearly consider that situation but, as we have suspended all negotiations, there is a strong possibility that will now not take place,” he noted.

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