Fri | Apr 12, 2024

BOLT ON HOLD

More individuals to be charged in SSL fraud case

Published:Sunday | February 25, 2024 | 12:10 AMAvia Collinder - Sunday Business Writer
Usain Bolt
Usain Bolt

SOURCES CLOSE to the management of assets in the Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL) fraud matter say that former sprinter Usain Bolt would not have received anything from assets disbursed or assigned to date.

It was stated that what has been assigned to date represent off balance sheet assets, which are being addressed at this time.

Regarding Bolt’s loss, this matter remains in court and will only be settled in that process, the source said.

Bolt is said to have had $2 billion in an account held in the name of his St Lucia-incorporated company, Welljen, for which an account was created at SSL in 2012.

Welljen’s account value plummeted from $2 billion (US$12.7 million) in October 2022, to J$1.8 million or US$12,000 in January, when he checked after being alerted.

Welljen’s case is being heard together with a suit that investor Jean Forde, 80, filed against SSL and 10 other defendants, including Panton and SSL’s founder Hugh Croskery.

Forde is alleging that she was defrauded of US$830,000.

Welljen’s case is against SSL and Panton.

It is otherwise noted that the investigation is nearing an end and other persons will be held accountable, based on new evidence.

Principal Director of Investigations for the Financial Investigation Division (FID), Keith Daeien, told the Financial Gleaner on February 23 that the investigation continues in relation to Bolt’s and other clients’ losses.

He stated: “The investigation is ongoing, but nearing completion. We anticipate a final meeting with the team of senior prosecutors on the case within the next two to three weeks.

“Thereafter, other persons are likely to be charged for multiple criminal offences. At this stage, we have no official comments regarding the tracing and recovery of any possible proceeds of crime, but can advise that all efforts are being made to bring persons to book based on the evidence unearthed.”

In 2023, the FID indicated that it had uncovered approximately 70 affected accounts; significantly more than the just over 40 affected accounts that had been reported at the initial phase.

The investigation also identified other fraudulent schemes at SSL which have resulted in the misappropriation and/or loss of numerous investors’ funds amounting to over US$10 million.

FRAUD

So far, the only individual charged in the $3 billion fraud court matter at SSL is Jean-Ann Panton.

Darien is now indicating that the FID will charge other individuals as soon as appropriate.

It was noted that he next court hearing will be in March.

Meanwhile, the Financial Services Commission (FSC), in its latest update on the management of SSL, indicates that funds have been disbursed on request to over 200 clients, amounting to $626 million.

As of February 16, 2024, over 1,000 client accounts totalling approximately $14.5 billion of local securities were transferred to facilitate access by SSL clients through brokers and institutions.

On Friday, February 23, one source stated that assets transferred to clients is expected to top $20 billion soon.

SSL came under the supervision of government authority after high levels of fraud were reported in January 2022.

Client assets are currently grouped into four categories which are cash, local securities, overseas securities and promissory notes issued by SSL related companies.

The FSC says that significant progress has been made in dealing with cash and local securities.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com