ECB face prospect of handing back Stanford's millions

The England and Wales Cricket Board were yesterday urged to contact the receiver charged with recouping any alleged ill-gotten gains of Sir Allen Stanford's collapsed empire.

It has emerged that the ECB may face legal action if they do not pay back Stanford's creditors millions of pounds given to them by the American financier, who has been charged with running a $7bn (4.3bn) Ponzi scheme and is in custody awaiting trial in the United States. Stanford denies the charges, which relate to the sale of certificates of deposit in his Antiguan-based Stanford International Bank.

The ECB openly courted Stanford three years ago and received $3.5m (2.2m) as part of a $100m (61.6m) deal for an ill-fated series of Twenty20 matches.

The Stanford receiver, Ralph Janvey, has already commenced legal action against other sporting bodies to recoup monies paid to them by the 60-year-old.

The ECB may be forced to prove they provided "good value" in return for the payments and demonstrate they received the money "in good faith".

The ECB refused to comment on the matter yesterday but chairman Giles Clarke said after Stanford's arrest two years ago: "We entered into the Stanford transaction in good faith. Like many sporting bodies, we carried out our side of the contract and he carried out his and we were paid. We then passed those funds on, to the benefit of the game."

After signing the Stanford deal, England played a $20m winner-takes-all match against a Stanford Superstars XI in Antigua.

That was due to be the first of five Stanford Super Series but the businessman's arrest meant it was the only staging of the event.

In addition to the ECB, Michael Owen and Kevin Pietersen could see personal deals made with Stanford probed by receivers.

Three Pakistani cricketers will learn today if they are to face prosecution over claims that they accepted cash bribes to fix matches. Senior lawyers at the Crown Prosecution Service have been considering evidence that the men conspired to defraud bookmakers.

A fourth man, businessman Mazhar Majeed, could also be charged over allegations that he accepted 150,000 to fix the actions of players during a Test against England at Lord's.

Captain Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir have all been interviewed under caution by Metropolitan Police officers. Majeed was arrested.

A fifth man, player Wahab Riaz, was also interviewed under caution but it is not known why he will not be included in the announcement today.

Butt, Asif and Amir were provisionally suspended by the International Cricket Council (ICC) pending a hearing which took place last month. The verdicts in the case are expected to be announced on Saturday, with all three players denying any wrongdoing.

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