top of page

Just A Man Playing in the Sand

Updated: Jun 15, 2022

A master at baiting gets away with cleaning out people’s life savings for over two decades - by playing in the sand.

By Michael Laliberte - Crime Researcher/Writer

Headshot of Robert Allen Stanford

With a beefy hand, the six-foot four inch, Robert Allen Stanford, gripped tight a palm full of sand, then released, like an hourglass, returning a little bit back to the beach at a time.

So much like his real life M.O.

Moving to the Caribbean in 1983, after his so-called business successes, Stanford left thousands of bodybuilding gymnasts with worthless memberships. The gym centers he owned went bankrupt. Records show he didn't pay his rent, or lease payments on gym equipment, but instead used the members' money to line his own pockets.

The beach was on the island of Montserrat. The sand was black from historic volcano ash. He pondered what to do next. How could he bait other people into gladly handing over their money?

After performing this child-like sand play several times, an idea... He smiled.

Shortly thereafter he started Guardian International Bank on the island of Montserrat. From there he touted the bank as a COD’s (Certificate of Deposits) investment bank that paid one or two percent higher than regular banks, to other licensed investment houses. Starting in Brazil and onto other countries and, with his baiting technique, he enticed those investment houses, paying them between 10% to 15% commission for raising investments from their clients. He baited TD Canada Trust to be his bank's facilitator, receiving investors’ money. Records show over $100 million flowed into TD Canada Trust on behalf of his Guardian bank.

Where were the regulators - $100 million ago?

And why did they ignore this registered bankrupt man - playing in the sand?

But woe, Montserrat’s offshore-banking industry began to crackdown on privately held banks, the address of the Guardian International Bank was in a run-down neighborhood with Guardian’s sign nailed to a wooden shack.

But they also ignored this registered bankrupt man - playing in the sand.

Still, Stanford moved to the Island of Antigua where the regulatory banking industry was far laxer. He renamed his bank Stanford International Bank, he baited some of Antigua's banking, and other regulatory officials, with hefty fees to be on the Board of Directors.

Why not trust a registered bankrupt man who came from playing in the sand?

Now fully armed with an authentic-looking front, Stanford moved onto the UK and other European countries where he was beginning to catch the eyes of high-ranking government officials as a well-respected financier and banker. He sponsored several professional sports teams - soccer his favorite to endorse his bank - he was getting world wild attention. Fortune 500 wrote of his massive wealth and how well his bank was performing.

Again, his registered bankruptcy, unnoticed – just a man playing in the sand?

Even Her Majesty the Queen was impressed with Stanford. She knighted the man. When moving onto the western countries, touting himself and his bank, U.S. President Bush endorsed his activities as the way a bank should operate.

No one cared that he was just a bankrupt man - playing in the sand...

From the early 1980s to 2005 Stanford International Bank raised over $7 billion worldwide from investors, on several occasions suspicious complaints were filed with financial regulators regarding Stanford's activities, including how well-off Stanford was over the years, but regulators refused to investigate. The, then Security Exchange Commission (SEC) head investigator, refused all investigative inquiries as being “overly complicated and does not want to investigate a textbook case.”

Too much complication? - to investigate a bankrupt man – CLEARLY playing in the sand.

It was shortly after the retirement of SEC investigative key personnel and the appointment of newer key investigative personnel, that fresh eyes began to focus on Stanford.

Where were the retirement folks’ $7 billion?

In 2009 the SEC charged Stanford with massive fraud and multiple violations of U.S. security laws. In 2012, Stanford was sentenced to a 110-year sentence.

Bottom-line - keep your money in well-known banks - not a one-man privately owned bank.

And beware of those who play in the sand.

They may not be playing. They may be planning how to steal your entire life savings.


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page