Miami Herald runs an excellent story on R. Allen Stanford (charged with multi-billion fraud) and a new angle: the stage was set for Stanford’s multi-billion fraud in 1998, the year Stanford persuaded Florida banking regulators to grant his company special rights to open a Miami office outside the scrutiny of federal banking regulators. In this unique instance, Sanford was represented by Greenberg Traurig.
“There was no lawful way that office should have been opened“, said Richard Donelan, the state’s chief banking counsel who opposed the deal.
1998, the year Jeb Bush was elected governor of Florida. That year and that election set the stage for the the biggest boom in housing and construction in Florida history, now in ruins. Jeb won in South Florida, and primarily through the coordination of his base constituency (builders and developers) and as a result, Miami is the epicenter of the housing bust.
This is the place the gears of the machine all lined up to mesh Wall Street financial motive with political levers at the most intricate level of decision making, from state authority to local zoning allowing unsustainable growth.
|The boom, based on unsustainable foundations and fraud, destroyed South Florida’s quality of life and environment, minting millionaires through the reciprocal arrangements of campaign contributions and politicians. And Greenberg Traurig attorneys seem to pop up everywhere.Stanford obtained authority to do offshore banking (an exclusive arrangement) with the help of Greenberg Traurig lobbyists from a Democratic administration in Tallahassee during the 1998 campaign for governor. Stanford does not begin to show up, according to a brief and cursory review of campaign contribution lists, as a prolific political donor until 2000. His contributions appear to be weighted to Democrats. Whose chains did Greenberg Traurig help to pull, during 1998, for Stanford in Tallahassee?
“Earlier, (Stanford) went to Miami attorney Bowman Brown, who said he declined to represent Stanford. A longtime banking lawyer, Brown said there were several elements that didn’t seem right about Stanford’s plan. “He wanted to set up an office in Miami to serve a business operation in the Caribbean,” said Brown. “The idea was to attract a Latin American clientele as a platform to sell securities.”
But Brown said Stanford “was not interested in undergoing any substantive banking regulations or submitting to government examiners.” Brown said. By the time the state approved the trust office in December 1998, Stanford was already hawking his top product: certificates of deposit.”
Could McKay Democrats, who were fish out of water when it came to understanding the Hispanic politics of South Florida, have been persuaded by Greenberg Traurig to help Stanford, based on their near perfect understanding of local politics? It is a key point avoided in the Herald story and a question the Herald should pursue.