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Viewing cable 06BRIDGETOWN755, CRICKET BREAKFAST SERVES UP FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06BRIDGETOWN755 2006-05-03 22:10 2010-12-20 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Bridgetown
VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHWN #0755/01 1232201
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 032201Z MAY 06
FM AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2401
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
INFO RUCNCOM/EC CARICOM COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L BRIDGETOWN 000755 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

EO 12958 DECL: 04/26/2016 
TAGS EINV, EAIR, EFIN, PREL, PGOV, PINR, KCRM, AC, BB, XL 
SUBJECT: CRICKET BREAKFAST SERVES UP FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH 
ALLEN STANFORD

REF: A. BRIDGETOWN 578
 B. BRIDGETOWN 178

Classified By: Ambassador Mary E. Kramer for reasons 1.5 (b) and (d)

1. (C) Summary: Ambassador Kramer met controversial Texan billionaire Allen Stanford for the first time at an April 21 “Legends of Cricket” breakfast in Barbados. Stanford bent the Ambassador’s ear concerning his significant new tourism and property investments in Antigua and plans for his Caribbean Star and Caribbean Sun airlines. Also present that morning was Barbados PM Arthur, who pulled the Ambassador aside to express his view that President Bush needs to lay out an innovative, ambitious energy strategy to serve as an example to the hemisphere. The breakfast was an attempt by legendary Barbados cricketers to whip up more enthusiasm for the sport. Stanford was likely invited due to his “Cricket 2020” initiative to revive West Indies Cricket. End Summary.

2. (C) At an April 21 “Legends of Cricket” breakfast at the Barbados Hilton, Ambassador Kramer found herself seated at the head table, along with Allen Stanford, the UK High Commissioner, and Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur. The Barbados group “Legends of Cricket” organized the breakfast with cricket greats from the past. Stanford cancelled another cricket-related event in Antigua and flew to Barbados to participate. (Note: Allen Stanford is a controversial Texan billionaire who has made significant investments in offshore finance, aviation, and property development in Antigua and throughout the region. His companies are rumored to engage in bribery, money laundering, and political manipulation. End Note.)

--------------------------- 
Stanford’s Expanding Empire
--------------------------- 

3. (C) This chance encounter was the first time the Ambassador had met Stanford. In response to the Ambassador’s question about his business ventures, he discussed his plans to develop a number of homes in the US$10-20 million range and a world class golf course on a small island off the coast of Antigua. (Note: Stanford was likely referring to his Guiana Island project. End Note.) So far, he has invested about US$35 million of his own just in the design and acquisition phases. He expects to have a front-end membership fee of several million dollars and approximately US$1 million per year in dues from the residents of these high-end communities. He also plans to pay up front about $1 million (unclear which currency - US$ or EC$) in taxes to Antigua each year. He believes this development and the tax revenue it generates will make a huge difference in the local economy.

---------------------------- 
Caribbean Star Set to Expand
---------------------------- 

4. (C) Stanford’s second big venture in the Caribbean is investment in new airplanes for his Caribbean Star airline. (Note: The recent Federal Aviation Administration Category One rating for the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States means Antigua-based Caribbean Star can begin flights to the U.S. See Ref A for more details. End Note). He expects to be running about 400 flights a week throughout the Caribbean, including to San Juan and Caracas, but it is unclear when this expansion will occur. A number of the planes on order are jets and the others are the familiar regional DASH-8s that currently make up most of the Caribbean Star and LIAT fleet. During his speech at the event, PM Arthur suggested that Stanford should merge his Caribbean Star airline with cash-strapped LIAT. (Comment: This scenario is highly unlikely as Stanford does not believe in partnerships. He is reportedly the sole shareholder in all his businesses, and would likely only go into business with LIAT by purchasing the government-owned airline. End Comment.)

------------------------------ 
PM Arthur on President Bush...
------------------------------ 

5. (C) Prime Minister Arthur was very cordial, seeking out the Ambassador for conversation. At the breakfast table, he expounded upon the friendship he feels he established with President Bush and how well he believes they work together for the benefit of the region. (Note: The PM was likely referring to their collaboration at the November 2005 Summit of the Americas in Buenos Aires. End Note.) Arthur also discussed how he is trying to engage other players in CARICOM to work with others--pointing to the Ambassador and UK High Commissioner--saying, “We must stop talking about bananas and
sugar and move on to talk about something we can actually accomplish together.”

-------------------- 
...And Energy Issues
-------------------- 

6. (C) Another table topic was PM Arthur’s belief that it is critical the United States provide leadership and make some specific statements about how it will move away from its “addiction” to oil. As the morning was coming to a close, he took the Ambassador’s arm and privately delivered a message for the President. President Bush, in his opinion, must lay out a new, innovative, and ambitious energy strategy for the U.S. In Arthur’s view, this is absolutely necessary for the the region, the hemisphere, and the world.

-------- 
Comments
-------- 

7. (C) Embassy officers do not reach out to Stanford because of the allegations of bribery and money laundering. The Ambassador managed to stay out of any one-on-one photos with Stanford during the breakfast. For his part, Stanford said he preferred to conduct his business without contacting the Embassy, resolving any investment disputes directly with local governments. It is whispered in the region that Stanford facilitates resolution with significant cash contributions.

8. (C) PM Arthur’s desire for bold U.S. leadership on energy echoes the commitments he made to help reduce his country’s fuel import bill via alternative energy during his budget speech earlier this year (Ref B). GILROY