JAM | Jan 28, 2023

Media was wrong about George Chai in SSL debacle

/ Our Today

Reading Time: 3 minutes

There is plenty of unsubstantiated information doing the rounds concerning investors being defrauded at Stocks & Securities Limited (SSL).

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has cautioned that people should not pay attention to baseless allegations and conflate issues in the case which only serves to damage both the country’s reputation and the financial sector which is anchored by confidence.

Media houses, as is their wont, want to get the story out first and in some cases sacrifice the veracity of what they are proclaiming. Fact-checking is not a staple of Jamaican media and one would be hard-pressed to find a fact-checking desk at any of the major media houses.

It was said that George Chai had his attorneys move to seize residential properties held by lead principal of SSL, Hugh Croskery, one of which was a house in Millionaire’s Row in Discovery Bay, St Ann.

That was not true and makes no sense. There is no record of Chai ever claiming he did so yet this was allowed to be disseminated.

Stocks and Securities Limited’s (SSL) Hope Road headquarters in St Andrew. (Photo: Facebook @SSLJamaica)

At the recently concluded Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) capital markets conference held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, securities dealers and other financial players bemoaned the role of the media and its fixation with Bolt. It was said there that in a frenzy to gather “likes” and “ clicks”, factual information here was being lost and that the media should wait for details to unfold.

That’s not how it works in this business, but it is important to get your facts right and to be circumspect if the story is unclear.

Jean-Ann Panton, the wealth adviser in this sorry affair does not own the apartment complex which was raided by the police last week. How did the media get that wrong? A cursory check would have provided answers.

If the financial sector and the media cannot be trusted, then Jamaica does have a big problem.

It’s already being said on the street that the Jamaican financial sector is “choppa with scholar”. It’s one thing to have a bad apple but over the last few weeks we have had a barrel of them!

Whom can you believe out there? We now know that there are plenty of dirty, rotten scoundrels spinning narratives for gain.  Some blame social media, and a growing get-rich-quick mentality now gripping Jamaica. There sure are a lot of money coaches out there who have no idea what they are talking about but are getting paid big bucks.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Andrew Holness declared: “You don’t want a crisis that doesn’t need to exist. Were it only a political market at risk, I would brush [it] aside and say that’s par for the course but there is our national asset at risk by this kind of behaviour. Our financial market is a regional leader and gives Jamaica a competitive advantage and we must protect it at all costs.”

Hosting participants from Africa, Europe and the wider Caribbean, attendees—including Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness (first row, sixth from left) are pictured during day two of the three-day Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) 18th Regional Investments and Capital Markets Conference held in the capital Kingston. Photo taken January 25, 2023. (Photo: Facebook @jamaicastockexchange)

“We must act responsibly. There was this query as to why I didn’t jump out with a statement immediately. Simple, because I have a duty when I speak, the information that I provide must be unassailable and that means you must take time to verify so that confidence can be restored.”

Here the prime minister could very well be speaking directly to the media. You can’t be quick to rush out news that cannot be verified – you lose credibility that way.

George Chai has kept a dignified silence throughout all of this.


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