Panton to sleep in jail for Christmas
FORMER wealth advisor Jean-Ann Panton, who was accused of fleecing in excess of US$12 million from dozens of Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL) clients, will spend Christmas and the new year behind bars.
Panton appeared before Justice Vinnette Graham-Allen in the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston on Wednesday from a remote location, via a video link. On Wednesday, she was remanded in custody until May 27, 2024, at which time her attorney-at-law Sylvester Hemmings is expected to complete his review of roughly 1,000 pages of documents regarding the case. These documents were previously disclosed to the defence team in June.
At the same time, the Financial Investigations Division (FID), within the Ministry of Finance and Public Service, has submitted a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for a review, to determine if more charges are to be laid in the massive fraud case at SSL.
The FID revealed on Wednesday that the number of client accounts impacted by fraud at SSL has surpassed 200 and is worth more than US$30 million.
The entity said though over 200 accounts were breached, there were only 23 official client statements recorded by the FID.
In a statement from the FID on Wednesday, the entity said: “The complexity of the investigation cannot be understated, as it involves a comprehensive examination of events dating back to the inception of SSL in 2006. Since then, the company has garnered substantial interest. The meticulous enquiry requires a thorough analysis of the entire time period, scrutinising the flow of investor funds. The process, by its nature is time consuming and deliberate. Presently the findings indicate potential criminal and regulatory breaches involving both the company itself and individuals associated with it. It should be noted that these matters are distinct from the ongoing court case, which centers on a prolonged fraud, affecting numerous investors.”
“The investigative process is far advanced and we are now at the point where a file is currently with prosecutors who are reviewing the evidential material with a view of discerning the possible charges. These investigations transcend national boundaries with inquiries extending beyond Jamaica. Leveraging international mechanisms such as the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), and employing informal channels like law enforcement-to-law-enforcement inquiries, as well as capitalising on Jamaica’s membership in the Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network for the Caribbean (ARIN-Carib), underscores the commitment to a thorough and comprehensive examination of the SSL matter,” the statement read.
Panton’s plea and case management hearing in court on Wednesday was observed by a male representative of a woman who is older than 90 years old, who was affected by fraud at SSL.
A prosecutor told Justice Vinnette Graham-Allen in court that the prosecution has complied with an order by the court, which stated that the case file is complete.
Graham-Allen said it was her duty to ensure that the documents were served on the prosecution, to prevent any delays when the matter proceeds to trial.
Hemmings, the attorney representing Panton, acknowledged receipt of all case documents but said he has not been able to look through the electronic document which contains roughly 1, 000 pages.
“I am still trying to go through those documents,” Hemmings told the court.
Graham-Allen then asked Hemmings how much longer it will take to go through the documents and take instructions from Panton.
The attorney said: “My estimate is that it should take some two to three months to go through the documents.”
The judge then said, “By the 30th of April, 2024, you should be able to complete taking your further instructions. I intend to set the date in May and the reason for that is to allow you to go through all the material you have received bit by bit, so you can meet with the accused and take further instructions from her. We are going to continue case management on May 27, 2024 at 10:00 am. You are remanded in custody and you are to appear remotely. This adjournment is to allow defence counsel Mr Hemmings to complete his reading of all the material disclosed to him by the prosecution and take written instructions from the accused in relation to these material.”