Seven months after a massive fraud was detected at Stocks & Securities Limited (SSL), investigators have uncovered that the number of affected accounts is almost double what was initially reported, increasing the size of the fraud by millions of US dollars.
The Financial Investigations Division (FID) investigation announced in a news release Thursday that its probe into the fraudulent activities at SSL have revealed that there are now approximately 70 affected accounts compared to the just over 40 reported in the initial phase of the investigation.
It also revealed an entrenched culture of gross mismanagement dating back well over a decade.
“The investigation is progressing with the application of the highest professional standards. It has taken on new dimensions which are wider than first expected,” Director General of the FID, Selvin Hay noted.
“The investigation has also identified other fraudulent schemes at SSL which has resulted in the misappropriation and/or loss of numerous investors’ funds amounting to over US$10 million,” he continued. “The FID is robustly pursuing various lines of inquiry and taking all the necessary steps to lead evidence-based prosecutions in the Court at the appropriate time against all guilty parties to include Jean-Ann Panton, the sole-accused perpetrator so far.”
The investigative process has brought together a variety of local regulatory and law enforcement agencies to include the Financial Services Commission (FSC) and the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) Fraud Squad. This is strengthened by investigative partnerships with the US-based Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and UK-based forensic accounting and intelligence firm Kroll as well as relevant member countries of the Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network for the Caribbean (ARIN-Carib), the release stated.
Meanwhile, the FID’s Principal Director of Investigations Keith Darien added, “The duration of the fraudulent activities as well as the variety of fraud has resulted in the investigative process taking an extended period. Prosecuting financial crimes requires meticulous evidence gathering to ensure success in the Court and to follow the money so that any illicit funds or assets may be identified, restrained and recovered.
“Before the next court date we anticipate the arrest and charge of other actors involved in the multiple fraudulent schemes recently discovered,” Darien continued. “There are certain deliberate actions being taken to support increased investigative efficiency. Our investigators have contacted the affected parties via email and phone calls but the responses from some have been short of encouraging. We continue to appeal to those affected to contact the FID. It is a critical part of seeking justice through the Courts.”