The Houston Chronicle has a takeout on Ben Barnes, the storied Texas power-broker who’s been thrust back into the limelight through his work as Allen Stanford’s Washington lobbyist.
Barnes — who didn’t return our call when we wanted to talk about this several weeks ago — reveals one intriguing nugget about what he was up to on Stanford’s behalf.
Reports the paper:
[O]ver the past year, [Stanford] was interested in having business taxed at the U.S. Virgin Islands tax rate rather than the U.S. rate, Barnes said. Stanford wanted legislation to promote investment in the Caribbean.
“This was not Allen Stanford’s legislation. This was the U.S. Virgin Islands idea because they wanted more people to come down there, earn money there,” Barnes said.
No such measure was approved either by Congress or the U.S. Treasury, he said.
It’s unclear exactly what this means. Which businesses would this change have applied to? Stanford had assets in the Virgin Islands, but the major part of his business was based in Antigua.
But — along with Stanford’s opposition to efforts to crack down on offshore tax havens — it’s another small piece of evidence that goes to answer the question of what Stanford hoped to get out of his assiduous attention to American lawmakers.
Late Update: We overlooked this, but it seems that Stanford was in the process of moving his operation to the Virgin Islands. In February 2008, he announced plans to break ground on construction of the ominously titled “Stanford Financial Group global management complex,” which would “serve as the head office for Stanford’s operations in the Caribbean.”
Lester Byrd, the Antiguan prime minister with whom Stanford had been worryingly close — it was through Byrd that Stanford obtained his knighthood — left office in 2004, and the Texan had chillier relations with his successor.