HOUSTON/ST JOHN'S - TEXAS billionaire Allen Stanford and three of his companies were charged with 'massive' fraud on Tuesday as federal agents swooped on his US headquarters.
Stanford's property holdings and celebrity associations drew comparisons with Wall Street financier Bernard Madoff, who was charged in December in a suspected $50 billion fraud.
Stanford has played an increasing role in sports, including endorsement relationships with golfer Vijay Singh and soccer star Michael Owen, along with involvement in polo and expensive effort to rehabilitate West Indian cricket.
He was a sponsor of a world-class tennis tournament, the 2009 Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida, in March.
The England and West Indies cricket boards suspended sponsorship talks with the Stanford group after the charges.
Stanford shot to prominence in international cricket after his private Twenty20 competition in the Caribbean, and the $20 million (14 million pound) game in November between England and his own team of West Indian players.
England Cricket Board Chairman Giles Clarke said his organization may utilize get-out clauses in its deal with Stanford, and he suggested the proposed quadrangular Twenty20 series in England in May was now unlikely to happen.