Perry / Bennie’s ties to Stanford

Allen Stanford, accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of engaging in an $8 billion fraud, maintained a fleet of jets, a yacht, and a mansion and properties in Antigua and the Caribbean, including his own personal island. The Antiguan government named him “Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of the Nation,” but he preferred the title “Sir Allen.” Sir Allen loved the Caribbean lifestyle and loved to entertain congressional leaders.

In 2005, Stanford sent two corporate jets to Washington Dulles International Airport to fly several members of Congress and staff to the Caribbean for a conference hosted by Inter-American Economic Council (IAEC).

The IAEC said in a recent statement that Stanford had “nothing to do with the establishment, administration or operations” of the group, but the IAEC president told the Dallas Morning News the organization raises no money except from sponsors for specific events and in 2005, Stanford provided 85 percent of the council’s revenue.

Until recently, the IAEC posted pictures of the 2005 conference in the Caribbean, which included pictures of Mississippi’s Bennie Thompson, and one of Thompson and Allen Stanford together.

For the next three years, New York Carib News funded trips for Thompson to Panama (2006), Antigua and Barbuda (2007), and St. Maarten (2008). According to Washington DC’s The Hill newspaper, “The trip is closely associated with the [Congressional Black Caucus]; only CBC members are invited each year.”

The Stanford Financial Group, as recently as 2008, was a supporting sponsor of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (giving between $15,000 and $30,000). The foundation sponsors trips including a 2003 trip to Puerto Rico for Thompson.

On the 2005 IAEC trip, Stanford hosted a reception for lawmakers on his yacht. He hosted another yacht reception for the 2007 trip that included an appearance by Bennie Thompson who “chatted” with Stanford “about a sailing event the billionaire sponsored.” Thompson’s chief-of-staff told the Politico newspaper he “was not sure whether Thompson flew on Stanford’s jet for the 2007 trip.”

The 2007 conference agenda scheduled Thompson to speak on “National Security: A Pre-Condition for Success” sponsored by the banking firm HSBC and “Port & Airport Security” sponsored by Macy’s.

The 2008 conference at the Sonesta Maho Bay Resort & Casino on the island of St. Maarten occurred about a month after Congress approved the $700 billion financial bailout package. Citigroup (who would receive $45 billion from the bailout package) sponsored the event to the tune of $100,000. Other corporate contributors included AT&T, Verizon ($35,000), Pfizer, Macy’s and American Airlines who donated travel. The National Legal and Policy Center has requested an investigation of the event by the special inspector general of the financial bailout package.

Both the 2007 and 2008 trips occurred after Democrats passed new Congressional ethics rules banning corporate sponsorship of conferences like these island trips.

Brian Perry
Madison County Journal
3/19/9