Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr Nigel Clarke has announced that it is no longer necessary for the Government to pay the salaries of fraud-hit Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL) staff members.
According to Clarke, an insurance claim made by the temporaray manager of the company in April of this year to insurers in England, has now been settled. SSL received the insurance payout of US$1 million on Thursday, September 7th, enabling it to settle the remainder of its August staff salary bill last week Monday, September 11.
“As such, with this new development, no taxpayer money, no Government of Jamaica resources, no public funds have, or will be, used to support SSL in the payment of any of its employees or any other of its expenses,” Clarke said.
According to a release on Tuesday, beginning Friday, September 22, SSL will begin the process of transferring these J$ client securities from SSL’s custody to other security dealers selected by clients, and any J$ cash balances in client accounts will be transferred to banks specified by clients.
“While we expect up to one-third of J$ client balances to be transferred within days, the entire process could take up to six weeks to be completed, given the volume of client accounts,” noted Minister Clarke.
However, the transfer of US$ securities owned by SSL clients will involve collaboration with US based regulators and US based investment houses which will therefore take more time.
“Given the progress in the investigation recently announced by the Financial Investigation Division, and the expected winding down of SSL’s off-balance sheet book of business, SSL’s staff complement is projected to decline from 22 persons currently to no more than 8 persons by the end of November,” the release read.
It noted, however, that complete removal of SSL as a contingent liability of the government requires a final determination by the Court on the issues surrounding who has proper authority over SSL: whether it is the Financial Services Commission’s appointed Temporary Manager or the SSL Board appointed Trustee.
Seven months ago, a massive fraud was detected the company. Since then, 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 that its probe into the fraudulent activities at SSL have revealed that there are now approximately 70 affected accounts compared to 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.
In June, accused fraudster Jean Ann Panton was remanded in custody for another six months to allow investigators more time for the submission of crucial files related to the major fraud.
The former SSL wealth advisor was indicted for three counts of larceny as a servant, three counts of falsification of accounts, five counts of forgery, five counts of uttering forged documents, three counts of engaging in transaction involving stolen property and three counts of breaches of the Cybercrimes Act.
Panton is accused of fleecing roughly $3 billion from more than 30 SSL clients over 10 years.
Sprint sensation Usain Bolt’s account at SSL was reportedly bilked of over US$12 million and was depleted to just over US$12,000.
Attorneys representing the Olympian and sprint world record holder, in a letter dated January 16, 2023, demanded that the investment firm return US$12.7 million to his account within 10 days or face civil and criminal action.