05 December 2012



ProPublica.com; US/1; ATTN: HST/2; JAG/1; US/12; US/8


[ed.note:  Been there, done thatWAAS/1.

Antigua had long been pretty much a family affair. The Vere C. BIRD family, Sr. and Jr., and Jr.’s brother Lester, pretty much enjoyed a semi-twisted  if sometimes ‘iron-fisted’ reign in Antigua, from 1967 until 2004, when a myriad of lingering criminal cases drove most of the remaining Bird family members from Antiguan government office. Papa Vere Sr. was succeeded by his son Lester in 1993, who then reigned until the effective end of the Bird dynasty in 2004, (and well after Murray’s boy Allen Stanford (see: below) had reared his pretty face in that tax paradise Laundromat). *

Vere, Sr. and Lester had been back-to-back, father and son Antiguan premiers. Though he never met Lester, US/1 made the acquaintance of Premier Vere Bird and Vere, Jr. back in November 1978, on his first foray as an intrepid foreign correspondent. Both denied that either of them had been involved in allowing Antigua to serve as the key transshipment point for Dr. Gerald V. BULL’s CIA ‘sponsored’ ILLEGAL dispatch from Vermont, via Montreal, of almost 35,000 155mm ERFB (Extended Range Full Bore) ARTILLERY SHELLS (listed as ‘rough machined forgings’) to the then embargoed nation of SUID AFRIKA. **

Dr. BULL, another former acquaintance, would later personally blame US/1 for causing him to actually have to serve time in a federal penitentiary. US/1 claims he doesn’t recall, Senator

[And just three months later, in early 1979, on an entirely different story, US/1 was sitting in the Las Vegas office of defrocked Howard Hughes Vegas Chief, Bob Maheu, perhaps even more notorious as the former FBI agent turned CIA-Mafia middleman on the Castro Assassination plots in the early 1960s, took a phone call in US/1’s presence and had a cryptic phone conversation about private air transport to Antigua relating to casino operations there. (There were only two at that time.) US/1 offered to telephonically introduce him the younger VERE (Vice Premier), but MAHEU demurely, if not craftily, declined…]

[Wikipedia on V. Bird, Jr. in 1990 under his Father’s reign – “Scandal and Firing"-- about V.C. Jr.'s ‘other arms deal’ with Israeli Mossad mercenaries on behalf of the Medallion Colombian Cocaine Cartel.
Bird [Jr.]'s career in the Cabinet was ended by scandal in 1990 after a shipment of Israeli weapons to Antigua and Barbuda were received and then diverted to the Medellín Cartel of Colombian drug dealers.[12] The scandal broke after the Colombian government publicly complained about the use of Antigua and Barbuda as a trans-shipment point; a diplomatic note from the Israeli government revealed that the weapons had been shipped at the apparent express instruction of Bird, who had given assurances that they would not be passed on to any third parties. 

The guns were actually ordered as part of a conspiracy by Maurice Sarfati and Yair Klein, who forged documents showing that Sarfati was an authorised representative of the Antiguan government and that the purchase of weapons had been approved by the Antiguan Minister for National Security, though that position did not exist.

The plan was to set up a mercenary training camp on Antigua in order to train and supply Gonzalo Rodríguez Gacha's Medellin forces.[13]The Prime Minister repeatedly refused to open an investigation, despite demands by community leaders and members of his own government, saying that "conclusive evidence" was needed. An investigation was finally ordered on 25 April, with Bird asking to be temporarily relieved of his position until the inquiry concluded.[14]

The inquiry was run by Sir Louis Blom-Cooper;[15] Bird was formally fired as a Cabinet minister on 10 May, the day Blom-Cooper arrived on Antigua.[16]

Back during Thanksgiving week in 1978, while US/1 was cooling his heels (almost two weeks) for an interview with the Premier, he ran into ever good-natured Vere Jr. during a slow nightclub night, who then politely introduced US/1 to his exquisite mistress, and promised to get his father to cooperate. Two days later, we finally scored the sit-down interview with the head of state (nothing but demurring denial, but at least on-camera, and exclusive).

Having cleared the big hurdle, we immediately headed off to film out by the Antiguan Defense Forces’ secret, closed training compound on Crab Peninsula, then being financed in full by Dr. Bull’s company, Space Research Corp. We filmed my driving up to the compound gate, the guards shooing us away and a very nicely displayed “No Photography” sign.

As we were driving back into town, we stopped by a cane field to grab some GVs (B-roll general views) and share some raw sugarcane stalks with the local kids. As we about to drive off, an Antiguan Army truck filled with helmeted armed troops came roaring up and demanded that we follow them. They led us to the ADF Base just outside of town, and demanded our video. We told them we had the specific (sort of) permission of the Chief of the ADF, Major [redacted], and that we had just interviewed Premier Bird. The soldiers were not moved in their armed demand for our video.

Finally, the Deputy ADF Chief, a Captain, pulled up and, without quite getting the full details from our lower-ranking interlocutors, quickly decided to let us go.

Back at our beach front hotel, US/1 cornered an equally young newly-wed American tourist couple, explained our recent travails, and the couple bravely agreed to take a copy of our video reportage back to Miami, where we, or our next of kin, could retrieve the tapes later, if necessary. We were left in a distinct quandary as to what to do next as we sat in the beach bar with our Red Stripes close at hand, wanly waiting for the other coconut hammer to drop.

In the meantime, US/1 had called his father, just to brief him up should the situation go completely awry. By no means at his request or even knowledge, US/1's Dad, the late BKNT Member LTC-WRM/3 (USAF ret.) had called the usually worthless State Department Caribbean Desk. They of course, went powerlessly apoplectic, since the Jonestown Kool-Aide mass suicide was just unfolding in relatively nearby Guyana. The closest US Consulate was on the island of Barbados, seemingly rather remote relative to our pending situation. Nonetheless, the bar phone suddenly rang with a call for US/1 who was promptly advised by a friendly but worried-sounding consular officer that we had best get off the island on the next flight out. 

We left on the very next available flight, which was the next day. As we approached the Antiguan Airport in the breaking early morning fog, the only visible viable aircraft of any note was a giant USAF-MAC C-141 transport, loudly idling on the tarmac.


Visions of Jonestown body bags instantly filled our weakened thoughts…

Thankfully it was not there to pick US up, in pieces or otherwise. Our scheduled American Airlines flight landed soon enough and we were among the first to scurry aboard. And then…nothing.  The plane just sat there. No announcements; nothing. Ten minutes, more nothing…twenty minutes…tic-toc, tic-toc. We weren’t off the island yet...

Finally, long past departure time, a lone black sedan slowly pulled up to the tarmac gang-way. 

As US/1 watched from the last seat at the back of the plane, as Premier Bird, Sr. and his security chief, the previously referenced ADF Major, exited the sedan and climbed up the gang-way carrying two large black valises, with no other discernible luggage. The two were apparently making, I later learned, their casino-related monthly trip to the Wall Street area of NYC. Then, the plane still sitting on the ground, I see the Major walking back into coach apparently looking for someone, row by row.

At the last row, the person or persons he sought was revealed–US/1!

“We trust you had a rewarding visit,” he said with a pleasant British accent. 

“With all due respect, please tell the Premier we did not, particularly,” replied US/1 softly. 

What with all those gun-point demands and whatnot. And the only lawyer we knew on the island was named Vere Bird, Jr. And all US/1 had left for money was PBS script...

The Senior Producer from WGBH in Boston, the always effervescent Ed Baumeister, elbowed US/1 sharply. It was a head of state I was indirectly addressing after all, he pointed out. But Ed had only arrived on the island in time to oversee the Premier’s on-camera interview the day before, and did not enjoy US/1's broader perspective on those two crooks.  But he had a valid point, though quickly made moot as the Major marched off without further adieu.

(My colleagues at the BBC had nicknamed Ed ‘The Boston Bagman,’ since he spent most of his day job delivering money to buy British fare for PBS’ Masterpiece Theater, NOVA and other program acquisitions via their flagship station, WGBH. Back then, PBS was frequently labeled the Mobil Petroleum British Broadcasting System by its American critics.)

WE toasted each other as we finally departed without further, further adieu, and flew over the boundary of Antiguan airspace.

Upon arrival at JFK International, US/1 discreetly followed the head-of-state and his made Major minion through US Customs without a hitch and watched as they walked off, suddenly reduced to just another two faces in the maddening crowd…looking for their Gambino family driver.**]

McClatchy Washington Bureau

By Murray Waas | Special to McClatchy Newspapers

last updated: November 29, 2012 06:00:03 PM
In 2006, Allen Stanford had yet to be identified as the mastermind of one of the largest and longest-running Ponzi schemes in U.S. history, but he faced mounting pressure.

Federal securities examiners were pushing for an investigation into his investment operation, which tens of thousands of soon-to-be victims had entrusted with nearly $7 billion. Some of the Texas financier’s own employees were threatening to tell authorities what they knew about his fraud.

Stanford was so concerned that a former senior State Department official named Jonathan Winer might expose his colossal con game that he ordered an investigation into Winer’s private life, according to Stanford’s previously secret records obtained by McClatchy.

Kroll Inc., an international corporate intelligence firm that Stanford had retained for over a decade, obliged. Tom Cash, a Miami-based a managing director of Kroll, soon informed Stanford in an email that he was looking into whether Winer’s ex-wife was a lesbian, according to the internal documents obtained by McClatchy.

Winer “is pure cockroach,” Stanford emailed back, encouraging Cash to try to unseal Winer’s divorce records. “Go after him as hard on as many fronts as possible.”

Winer, who said in an interview that Kroll’s characterization of his ex-wife was “patently absurd,” wasn’t the company’s only target.

The documents show that Kroll also investigated and passed to Stanford personal information about several of his former employees, his defrauded investors, other U.S. government officials and journalists who were questioning his bank’s financial stability. Stanford used the information to silence and discredit several of them.
Stanford is serving a 110-year jail sentence after having been found guilty in March of 13 federal fraud charges related to the scheme he ran from his offshore bank, Stanford International Bank, once located on the Caribbean island of Antigua.

The newly obtained documents shed light on some of the steps Stanford took to elude law enforcement officials for years. By the time his scheme was uncovered in 2009, nearly all of the cash that he fleeced from investors had disappeared. The records also show how Kroll stepped into ethically questionable territory as it foraged for damaging or embarrassing information that might be used to intimidate or smear Stanford’s perceived adversaries.

Kroll, which has been referred to as Wall Street’s “private eye,” says its employees had no clue they were helping to conceal the second-biggest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history.

The disclosures regarding Kroll’s work for Stanford come as a string of governmental investigations and private lawsuits surrounding those who allegedly aided Stanford’s Ponzi scheme heat up. Even though Stanford is in jail, the Justice Department and Securities Exchange Commission are still investigating the conduct of other lawyers and accounting firms who worked for Stanford, according to people close to the inquiries. A federally appointed court receiver also has been attempting to claw back money for defrauded investors, suing several law firms and accounting firms for work they did for Stanford. 

SEC examiners concluded as early as 1997 that Stanford was running a massive Ponzi scheme, agency records show. But Stanford was able to stall the opening of any formal inquiry for a full decade, much like the man behind the only bigger U.S. Ponzi scheme, Bernard Madoff.

Federal law enforcement officials, private lawyers seeking to recover money for victims and even some of Stanford’s former aides say that his fraud likely would have been discovered years earlier if it hadn’t been for the collective assistance of respected law firms, accountants and Kroll.

Kroll, the law firms and accountants have said they acted in good faith, but were duped themselves. 

Citing “legal reasons,” Kroll said it could not comment on “these specific events,” but added that “none of the individuals associated with the investigation six years ago are currently employees of Kroll.”

Cash, a former special agent in charge of the DEA’s Florida and Caribbean Division, left Kroll in 2009.

The firm said it “takes active steps to ensure that the company conducts its business activities in compliance with the laws of the countries in which it operates.”
Stanford considered Winer one of the most serious threats to unmask his Ponzi scheme as early as the late 1990s, during Winer’s service as deputy assistant secretary of state for law enforcement. Among Winer’s responsibilities was to combat international money laundering and encourage greater regulation of offshore banks, such as those headquartered in Antigua.

By locating his bank there, Stanford was able to evade regulation and oversight from U.S. authorities, while Antiguan banking regulators allegedly took bribes and other favors to turn a blind eye to his activities.
Over several years, Winer joined federal regulators and members of Congress, including then-Democratic Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, in calling for legislation that eventually limited U.S. operations of countries that permit bank secrecy, perhaps indirectly leading to the exposure of Stanford’s fraud.

What provoked Stanford to ask Kroll to investigate Winer for a second time was a May 2006 article about Stanford by Bloomberg news service. Bloomberg reported that Stanford had falsely claimed, in donating $2.5 million to restore the home of Stanford University founder Leland Stanford, that he was a relative of the late Leland Stanford. In a statement to Bloomberg, university officials denied any such “genealogical relationship between Allen and Leland Stanford.”

The story quoted Winer by name, leading Stanford to believe that Winer was behind it, according to correspondence obtained by McClatchy.

But what upset Stanford the most was something not contained in the story, but in questions that Bloomberg reporters posed to him. They suggested that the returns Stanford’s bank promised investors were implausibly high or that Stanford was even running a Ponzi scheme, according to the correspondence between the reporters and Stanford aides.

Worried that someone might raise those questions in print, Stanford emailed Cash about Winer on June 8, 2006: “Tom, I want an in depth profile, credit history, marriage, kids, work personal quirks.” 

“We are presently doing just that,” Cash emailed back.

Stanford followed up the next day: “Do whatever it takes to zero in… I bet you can find a way to get Winer’s divorce decree unsealed. The guy is pure cockroach and he keeps surfacing and saying all this insane BS to whoever will listen.”

Cash emailed back that he was “exploring contacting the judge” about the divorce records or filing a freedom of information lawsuit.

Before the day was over, Cash triumphantly emailed: “Our info is wife by whom he had two children divorced him and ran off with another woman. Wife also was a lesbian.”

Winer, now a senior director of the international consulting company APCO, said in an interview that the allegations regarding him and his wife were “laughable” and that there was nothing derogatory in his divorce records. “As to my ex-wife, one or both of us would have known if she was ever a lesbian. The most accurate information in the emails is my wife and I have two children. The actual number is three. Other than that, everything was wrong.”

Records indicate that Cash ultimately discovered no derogatory information regarding Winer’s divorce or his wife.

FBI agents seized copies of the emails between Stanford and Cash during a raid on the U.S. brokerage offices of Stanford’s bank. McClatchy recently obtained copies of the emails and other records.

During the same period in which it targeted Winer, Kroll also tried its tactics on two former Stanford employees who sued him and threatened to talk to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the emails showed.

“I think we might be able to assist in this investigation which could get very significant unless we can discredit the accusers,” Cash wrote Stanford.
Earlier, after the newspaper Caribbean Week published an article critical of Stanford in 1996, Stanford directed Cash to “go for … the jugular” in investigating the story’s author.

Cash assured Stanford that Kroll had “three people working full time in developing information in the United States.” The newspaper soon published a retraction of the article.

An expatriate Antiguan, McChesney Emanuel, also was a thorn in Stanford’s side, the emails indicate.

Emanuel was the principal of the St. Pius V Parish Elementary School, a private Catholic school in New York City, where he sometimes held meetings with other dissidents to protest the Antiguan regime and Stanford’s outsized influence over it.
In 2004, Kroll had undercover agents infiltrate their meetings and then sent Stanford detailed reports.

Cash’s departure from Kroll came after it was discovered that he’d recommended that a company client, the National Electrical Contractors Association, invest with Stanford. Relying on Cash’s report giving Stanford’s bank a clean bill of health, the association bought $2.5 million of Stanford’s worthless certificates of deposits, the group said in a 2007 lawsuit accusing Kroll of “gross negligence.”

The suit alleged that Kroll “never disclosed” Cash’s or Kroll’s relationship to Stanford “before submitting a falsely positive report.”

The parties later settled the suit for terms that have not been disclosed.

* - Some ANTIGUAN history, politics worldwide famous residents since 1978. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antigua
** - Vere Jr. ‘other arms deal’ with Israeli mercenaries on behalf of the Medallion Columbian Cocaine Cartel. And his father’s controversial dynastic reign. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vere_Bird,_Jr.; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vere_Cornwall_Bird

[Information contained in BKNT E-mail is considered Attorney-Client and Attorney Work Product privileged, copyrighted and confidential. Views that may be expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of any government, agency, or news organization.]


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