JAM | Jan 26, 2023

SSL D-Day | Timeline of a fraud scandal; no word on payback of Bolt’s millions

Shemar-Leslie Louisy

Shemar-Leslie Louisy / Our Today

Reading Time: 5 minutes

A day before the deadline of the 10-day ultimatum given by Jamaican sprint legend Usain Bolt’s legal team for the return his money, there is no update on whether the missing funds will be returned without the Olympic icon having to take next steps.

Ahead tomorrow’s D-Day, Our Today recaps all the major events dating from January 12, when news first broke of the Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL) fraud scandal.

  • On January 12, 2023, an investigation was launched after millions of dollars allegedly went missing from an account belonging to retired track and field legend Usain Bolt at Jamaican investment firm Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL). The company has reportedly made contact with the police to probe the incident.
  • On January 16, the Financial Services Commission (FSC) appointed a Special Auditor for SSL to assist in the enhanced supervision of the entity and the continuing investigations into its operations. The company is allowed to continue its business operations but must seek the approval of the regulator for transactions involving the intake and payout of funds to clients.
  • On January 16, Bolt, through his attorneys demands his balance of US$12.75 million from his account at SSL, giving them 10 days to comply.
  • Statement leaked, detailing how money was taken by clients and listed by name from former SSL Employee Jean Ann Panton, the person alleged to be at the centre of the billion dollar fraud. Missing from the list is Usain Bolt. (dated January 7)
Jean-Ann Panton, former wealth advisor at SSL.

Estimated figure believed to be stolen in SSL fraud case balloons to J$3 billion.

SSL also removed the images of its board of directors from its website amid the ongoing scandal. The reason for the removal was not immediately clear, but the company also included a notice on its online platform indicating that it was now under the direction of the Financial Services Commission (FSC) and that persons with urgent queries should contact the FSC. The FSC held a poorly received press conference at which FSC officials dodged questions around the ongoing scandal.

Minister of Finance Dr Nigel Clarke gave a statement called emerging news from the case “Evil fraud!”

On January 18, Everton McFarlane, executive director of the Financial Services Commission (FSC), resigned. His resignation came as the regulatory body remained under scrutiny for its perceived failures in conducting oversight of Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL).

Everton McFarlane, former executive director of the Financial Services Commission

On January 19, Finance Minister Nigel Clarke, released a statement promising ‘No stone would be left unturned in the SSL matter while announcing a press conference to be held on Monday (January 23) to received mixed responses from the public on Twitter.

Dr Nigel Clarke, minister of finance and the public service. (Photo: JIS)

On January 20, resignation of Everton McFarlane took effect and Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) Chief Prudential Officer Major Kerron Burrell is to act as FSC executive director.

A search was also conducted by investigators from the Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime and Investigations Branch (CTOC), at the home of the former wealth advisor at the centre of Stocks and Securities Limited scandal, (SSL) Jean-Ann Panton.

A high level police team during a search of an apartment connected to SSL fraud accused Jean Ann Panton.

On January 21, dancehall artiste Gage releases song SSL encapturing and echoing the sentiment of people in Jamaica amid the SSL scandal

On January 22, Opposition counterpart, Julian Robinson, raised questions that the Opposition would like answered by the Government amid the ongoing Stocks and Securities Ltd scandal. Robinson called for the finance minister to indicate whether the staff of the Financial Services Commission (FSC) sent an examination report to the board, whether the board of the FSC sent reports on the operations of SSL to him as finance minister or to his predecessors, and whether they indicated any concerns they had about SSL and the state that it was in and whether any government agencies that had accounts or investments at SSL.

Former CEO of SSL, Zachary Harding denies any knowledge of Bolt or an account belonging to a company affiliated with bolt. He said:

“I only learnt of Bolt being a client of SSL when the news broke in the media. At no point at all did his or any company he may have been affiliated with ever come up as being a client of SSL while I was there, and another previous employee who worked at SSL in different capacities for several years, eventually also holding the position of CEO prior to my tenure, was also not aware of [Bolt] nor any company associated with him having an account there.”

Zachary Harding, former chief executive officer, SSL Venture Capital Jamaica Limited.

Questions begun to be asked about whether Bolt’s money ever made it to SSL or was there more foul play on the side of his team than previously believed.

On January 23, Finance Minister Nigel Clarke delivers press conference announcing that although SSL makes up two per cent of security dealership in Jamaica, aid from the FBI being sought for the ongoing case, the new board members at the FSC, the Twin Peak model with the BOJ absorbing the regulatory oversight role of the FSC, and the presence of government accounts at SSL (NHT, NHF, National Insurance Fund, and the Jamaica Banana Industry’s Catastrophe Fund).

Richard Byles, governor of the Bank of Jamaica and new chairman of FSC. (Photo: Contributed)

Mark Croskery joined the list of former chief executive officers (CEOs) of Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL) who have been seeking to distance themselves from the multi-million dollar fraud scandal rocking the investment company.

Mark Croskery

On January 24,  the temporary manager appointed by the Financial Services Commission (FSC) has confirmed the existence of an account in the name of a limited liability company (LLC) belonging to Usain Bolt.

The Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) has thrown its support behind the Finance minister’s announcement that officials from the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have been called in to assist local authorities with a probe in the multi-billion-dollar fraud scandal.

NHF and NHT release a statement confirming the safety of their SSL accounts.

The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) has welcome announcements around critical reforms aimed at tightening regulations and preventing fraud and other infractions within the financial sector.

On January 25, FSC secured a court order blocking attempts by the directors of SSL from liquidating the firm.


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