ECB urged to return Stanford millions

London, Feb 4 (AFP) English cricket chiefs have been toldto return millions of dollars they received from controversialbusinessman Allen Stanford or face legal action.

Texan financier Stanford, whose business empire hascollapsed, has been charged with running a seven billiondollar ''Ponzi'' fraud by US authorities.

According to lawyers working for Stanford receiver RalphJanvey, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) could betaken to court if it does not return to creditors millions ofdollars it received from Stanford.

The ECB, in an attempt to provide its leading playerswith an enticing alternative to the lucrative Indian PremierLeague (IPL), joined forces with Stanford three years ago andreceived 3.5 million dollars as part of a 100 million deal fora series of Twenty20 matches.

Janvey has started to probe other sporting bodies andlawyer Kevin Sadler, who is working for the receiver, told theDaily Telegraph: "Any entity (or person) which receivedpayments from the Stanford Ponzi scheme is subject to a claimfor fraudulent transfer, unless the recipient can prove thatthe payment was received in good faith and that reasonablyequivalent value was given in exchange for the payments.

"Payments made for the purpose of promoting the Stanfordbusiness image to the public would not pass the legal test ofreasonably equivalent value."

The ECB, who refused to comment on yesterday''s statement,have always insisted they acted properly in their dealingswith Stanford.

ECB chairman Giles Clarke, speaking after Stanford''sarrest two years ago, said: "We entered into the Stanfordtransaction in good faith.

"Like many sporting bodies, we carried out our side ofthe contract and he carried out his and we were paid. We thenpassed those funds on, to the benefit of the game."

Cricket traditionalists were appalled though by the sightof an England team taking part in such nakedly commercialTwenty20 matches that climaxed with a winner-takes all20million clash in Antigua.

England suffered a 10-wicket thrashing by the StanfordSuperstars, effectively a West Indies select XI, in the 2008final of what should have been the first of five Super Seriesfinals but turned out to be the only edition of the tournamentbefore Stanford''s arrest.

Several sportsmen, including England cricketer KevinPietersen, could also have their individual dealings withStanford investigated by the administrator.

The pair were recruited as Stanford ''ambassadors'' as wereseveral former West Indies cricketers including VivianRichards and Curtly Ambrose.

Stanford was last month declared unfit to stand trial,with a US judge ruling he needed treatment for drug addictionbut refusing to release the 60-year-old because he was still a"flight risk". (AFP) PM

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