WATCH: Opposition demands special audit of SSL
Opposition spokesperson on Finance, Julian Robinson

The Opposition People's National Party (PNP) is demanding a special audit of the embattled investment firm, Stock and Securities Limited (SSL) to ascertain whether public funds were misappropriated in the multi-million dollar fraud scandal now engulfing the firm.

Speaking at an NEC conference meeting on Sunday, the Opposition spokesperson on Finance, Julian Robinson, questioned whether government agencies had investments or accounts at SSL.

"We want to know whether government agencies had investments or accounts at SSL and what the status of those accounts would be, and whether the FSC itself had an account, whether it invested money at SSL and whether it had any other relationship with SSL. It is important that taxpayers know whether those monies that would have been invested on behalf of the public purse are safe and whether those funds are sound," Robinson said.

Robinson continued to say the Opposition is urging the Auditor General to conduct a special audit of the FSC.

"We believe it is important for light to be shed on what took place at the FSC in terms of the decision making around SSL," he said.

As the investigation into the multi-billion-dollar fraud at Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL) progressed, police searched two premises in the Corporate Area that they believe are connected to suspect Jean-Ann Panton and seized documents as well as electronic devices.

Track and Field superstar Usain Bolt is one of several persons who have been affected by the massive fraud.

Robinson also appealed to the Minister of Finance, Dr Nigel Clarke, to address the role of the FSC in regulating the activities at SSL.

"We are calling for the Minister of Finance to indicate to the country whether the staff of the FSC sent what is called an examination report to the board for the years 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 in relation to what was happening at SSL," Robinson said.

Robinson also wants the minister of finance to "indicate whether the board of the FSC sent to him, the Ministry of Finance or his predecessors reports of the operations of SSL and whether they indicated to him as Minister the concerns they had about SSL and the state that the entity was in".

"Did the minister of finance share these reports with the Cabinet or the prime minister of the country? It's very important in the interest of transparency and openness that these reports, if they were done, be made public," Robinson added.

“The public has a right to know what the FSC did, when they had the information and they have a right to know whether the staff made recommendations to the board and whether these recommendations were acted upon," Robinson continued.

Last week, the Minister of Finance Dr Clarke issued a statement indicating that there will be full transparency on the matter.

"No stone will be left unturned in unearthing exactly how funds were allegedly stolen, who benefited from such theft and who organised and collaborated in this,” Dr Clarke said.

Dr Clarke also declared that the directors and managers of SSL must account for their stewardship.

“There are many questions to be answered, such as the time period between becoming aware of this fraud and informing the regulatory and investigative authorities and the actions taken in the interim, among other matters,” Dr Clarke said.

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader, Mark Golding, said there appears to be a business relationship between the SSL and the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

“It is said that Jamaica Labour Party main fundraising accounts were held at SSL at some point in time. And the fact that the FSC having had information through a report from its management in 2017, which was a daming reporting, which indicated serious Governance and other financial problems within SSL, including qualified audited financial statements questioning the ability of the company to continue as a growing concern,” Golding said, adding that for that enterprise as a regulated player in the financial sector to be allowed to continue to opportate "as business as usual… nearly six years ago, befuddles the mind.”

He went on to question whether or not there was any form “of political” interference in the investigation into the multi-million dollar fraud.

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