Even for those who won?t or can?t comprehend the gravity of the unfolding R Allen Stanford meltdown, it is, at the very least, a saga to tune into. But for workers still holding the line at the companies owned by the one time larger than life investor, this is no esoteric matter; rather, it is about their bread and butter.
?It is a very uncertain future around here, with the staff, at this point, having two major concerns: one is our retirement fund and two is our severance,? one manager who spoke to this newspaper on the condition of anonymity said yesterday.
The manager was referencing the management fund into which some Stanford staffers had invested, and the severance, if and when the boom finally comes crashing down.
In fact, earlier this year, when the Stanford empire was beginning to unravel with civil charges laid against the principal by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), employees engaged the services of attorney Cosbert Cumberbatch to recoup their retirement funds.
The Daily OBSERVER understands that the grouping, some of whom have already lost their jobs, are pooling money, with a starting donation of $50, to raise the US $16,000 required by a Stateside company to release a statement detailing where the funds are invested and how much each investor has.
?A second concern we have is where does the company stand, who is in charge now and when it comes to an end, how long it will be if we get our severance,? the manager said. ?There?s uncertainty because people are bracing for the worst.?
News last Friday of criminal charges ? 21 counts of conspiracy, fraud, obstruction and money laundering in connection with an alleged US $7.2 billion Ponzi scheme ? that mirror the civil lawsuit has further unsettled the employees, The Daily OBSERVER understands. It became clearer to them that each entity, once a part of a powerful conglomerate, is left to the proclivities of the managers.
?We haven?t had any directives from Stanford or any of his officers to say continue to continue to function or don?t function. It?s just up in the wind. The people who we used to report to are no longer in existence, it?s a very precarious situation,? the manager said.
He added, ?people are still coming to work (but) we are staying open not to generate anything for Stanford. It?s to keep us all employed and bringing in a salary, but we don?t know for how long.?
Staff morale, reportedly ?sluggish? when the civil charges were filed in February, is back up, with people realising that for now their destiny is in their hands.
?We?re saying, ?Hey, if I keep working, I get a salary.? It?s buying us some time because the market is flooded and jobs are scarce,? the manager added.
Even as they wait for the other shoe to drop, as it inevitably will, belt-tightening and other measures have been instituted, including pay cuts, ranging from 5 to 10 per cent for managers and supervisors and shortened workweeks for line staff.
Meantime, Hugh Marshall, who was Stanford?s local legal counsel before things unravelled, has summoned all the heads of the companies to a meeting next Tuesday.
While there was no indication at the time of going to press what will be discussed, it was certain that the staff, from cook to bottle washer, is resting on pins and needles.