Thursday, 19 February 2009

Panic on the streets of St John

Allen Stanford's business issues have had the expected result on the streets of St Johns and it is The Independent that has probably the best "local colour" piece:
"They were dressed in summer clothes. The sun was beating down but the palm trees dimmed its heat. Nothing, however, could disguise the frightened mood of the people.

Outside the Bank of Antigua yesterday, the overwhelming fear was that hell had come to paradise. There were perhaps 150 people queueing outside desperate to get inside.

They had come to check the state of their accounts. Every person there seemed to have every penny they had in the world deposited with the bank.

The Bank of Antigua is owned by Stanford Financial Group and the day before in the US, its chairman, Sir Allen Stanford, had been charged with taking part in an $8bn (£5.6bn) fraud. The Securities and Exchange Commission in Texas cannot have known the potential catastrophe its actions were inflicting on Antigua and Barbuda.

Sir Allen first brought his business to these Caribbean islands 26 years ago. He is, next to the government, the biggest employer in the country with some 2,000 workers. Since the population is only 70,000 his departure will have a cataclysmic effect. “Of course, I’m worried. I want to try to see if my money is safe and I want to try to take it out,” said Derek John. His life savings are deposited with the bank and without them his building contracting company in the Antiguan countryside may |be in big trouble."

Most Antiguans are proud, independent and respectable and they do save; they need to. Now they are worried about the safety of their money and many will also be wondering about their job security as well.

No comments: