Sports betting club allegedly attributed promotional statements to deceased U. professor
The Sports Trading Club, an English-based sports betting and investment organization, is being challenged over its alleged misattribution of promotional statements to former University economics professor Peter B. Kenen.
The club used quotes purportedly authored by Kenen, who died in December 2012, in numerous online press releases that started a week after his death, to endorse the club and sports trading as sound alternative investment opportunities, a Sunday Mail investigation found.
“The recent success of the Sports Trading Club is a clear example of how the amateur investor can prosper and outperform any hedge fund,” Kenen was quoted as saying in a press release dated Dec. 23, 2012.
The release also contains the logo of Princeton University and described the interview with Kenen as “his last media interview.” In total, the release quotes over 700 words allegedly pronounced by Kenen in which he defends sports trading as “the way of the future.”
The release contains no byline or contact information.
In a similar press release published a week later, Sports Trading Club claimed that Kenen’s message had “got investors scrambling to learn what all the fuss is about.”
“The stock market is seriously contemptuous of investors, whereas there is a truth and transparency to the STC,” Kenen was also quoted as saying.
University economics department chair and professor Gene Grossman told The Daily Princetonian that he first became aware of the alleged fraud when he was contacted via email by the Mail and advised the University’s Office of the General Counsel.
He added that he then contacted two of Kenen’s daughters, who he said were already aware of the alleged fraud and in the process of taking legal action against the club.
Joanne Kenen, one of Kenen’s daughters, said the legal actions were being handled by the University’s legal department. She explained the family is a participant in the legal actions underway but declined to provide further details.
She explained she found out about the attributed quotations soon after Kenen’s death.
Regina Kenen, Kenen’s widow, however, said she was unaware of the attributed quotations and had never heard of Sports Trading Club. She explained that in the last months of his life Kenen was in no condition to have given an interview, but that he would not have supported them even if he could.
“He would never make these kinds of statements in support of a trading club,” she added. “But I don't know anything about it.”
Grossman said that after he contacted the Office of the General Counsel, they promised they would take action.
University Spokesperson Martin Mbugua confirmed that the University was made aware of the situation after a faculty member contacted the OGC.
He explained that the OGC asked the Office of Communications to contact the owner of the Sports Trading Club website and the author of the press releases, asking them to make changes to the website so that its press releases did not appear to be affiliated with the University.
The University reached out on the week of Oct. 21 and is currently waiting to hear back, he added.
The Sports Trading Club website lists only Australian phone numbers. A receptionist said she was unaware of the situation and said they would call back. As of press time, no representative of Sports Trading Club had contacted The Daily Princetonian.
Most of the statements attributed to Kenen in the press releases originated from an e-newsletter published on Dec. 17, the day of Kenen’s death, by an Australian journalist called Dan Dennin, the Mail investigation found.
The website, sportstradingclub.com, was registered on October 25, 2012, about a month and a half before Kenen's death.
Denning writes for The Daily Reckoning Australia, a free online newsletter that covers alternative investment opportunities. Denning’s article did not quote or reference Kenen, according to the Mail.
The 'Prince' could not independently locate or verify the article mentioned by the Mail. Online contact information for Denning led to disconnected phone numbers.
The Sports Trading Club is an investment organization that bets on various sports matches to return a profit to its investors. The club promotes itself as an alternative to traditional financial investments, and has reported “a 1350% profit for the first eight months of 2013.”
Kenen, who died last Dec. 17 of emphysema at the age of 80, was a Senior Fellow in International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations and Walker Professor of Economics and International Finance. He directed the International Finance Section at the University from 1971 to 1999, prior to that taught in Columbia’s economics department, overseeing the department as chair and serving as provost.