News Americas, MIAMI, FL, Tues. Jan. 17, 2023: With no arrests to date made in the multi-million US dollar investment firm Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL) Jamaica fraud scam hitting Olympic sprint legend Usain Bolt and some dozens of others, here’s where matters stand to date:
1: The 100m-world record holder has now given SSL 10 days to pay US$12.7 million that he said was in his account up to October 2022 or be sued. Bolt’s attorney, Linton Gordon, reportedly wrote to SSL on Monday, January 16th, according to the Jamaica Gleaner.
2: The threat of a lawsuit comes after reports that Bolt had fired his long-time manager, Norman Peart. Peart, who was with Bolt since he broke on to scene as a teenager in 2002, told Radio Jamaica Sports that he and the eight-time Olympic gold medalist had “parted company amicably in late 2022.”
3: Peart and not Bolt is one of the clients ex-employee and wealth advisor, Jean-Ann Panton, says she stole money from. In a January 7th statement, Panton, who says she worked at the company for 25 years, says she began “borrowing from client accounts” after her father was diagnosed with cancer and had to go outside of Jamaica for treatment; when he passed away to cover the funeral expenses and to commit her brother to a “home” after he threatened to kill their mother.
Panton said she also continued using clients’ funds during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. She said she used various mechanisms to take money from clients in collaboration with Delano Cooke, Wesley Williams, Norman Taylor and Tanya Thelwell. They acted as bearers and would be issued the checks by SSL, visit the bank to collect the funds and then those funds would be delivered to her. The total she claims to have stolen amounts to US 4,323,073. This does not account for the USD 10 million Bolt says he lost.
4: SSL says it only discovered the fraud in early January and that the ex-employee, a wealth advisor, has been implicated. The Jamaica Constabulary Force’s Fraud Squad and the Financial Investigations Division (FID) said they are continuing their collaborative investigation into alleged fraudulent activities.
In a statement, the FID said it is also collaborating with the Financial Services Commission (FSC), which is “executing the requisite protocols and actions in accordance with its remit as regulator of non-deposit-taking institutions, including entities operating in the securities industry.”
SSL has removed the names and photos of its leadership team from its website and included a notice on its online platform indicating that it was now under the direction of the Financial Services Commission, (FSC).
5: The Financial Services Commission (FSC), which regulates investment houses, has taken temporary management of SSL and appointed a special auditor for the firm. This as the FSC is facing scrutiny itself after The Jamaica Gleaner reported that an agency report dating back to 2017 had described SSL has operating “a culture of non-compliance and mismanagement of client funds.” At the time, the regulators threatened to suspend SSL’s operating license if it failed to address the problems but its not clear what happened.
6: Jamaica’s Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke said he is shocked and angered at the development which he also described as “evil.” “Like all Jamaicans I am in shock, and feel a profound level of anger and disgust, at the alarming and evil fraud that has allegedly been committed at Stocks and Securities Limited, and which is the source of public discussion and anxiety at this time,” said Clarke in a statement late Tuesday.
This as the opposition People’s National Party, (PNP), slammed the Financial Services Commission’s (FSC) failure to offer effective regulatory control of non-deposit-taking financial companies following the fraud scandal at Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL). The Opposition underlined in a media release on Tuesday that, in the case of SSL, “it is now clear that the FSC had grave concerns about the operations of the company going back several years.”