More questions than answers
Nigel Clarke

Dear Editor,

While I agree it is better to have Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL) operating during an investigation, why does the temporary manager need so many employees to keep the company going?

Indeed, current employees will be familiar with the systems and procedures to help the probe, but I would be more comfortable knowing that operations of this private entity were scaled down, with a skeleton staff under temporary management, while the probe continues. Staff was reduced by approximately 1/3, but I think it could be lower.

Minister of Finance Nigel Clarke announced that it would cost the Government $14 million per month to keep the company going and continue to pay salaries. After public outcry, he clarified that funding will come from criminal proceeds and the Financial Services Commission. The after-the-fact clarification had people wondering if Government can ever be trusted to be transparent.

We understand that the Ministry of Finance controls over $300 million in funds from illegal activities, what are the guidelines for using these funds and how does it benefit the public? Why not invest some in health care, education, and social services and be transparent about it?

We understand that several fraudulent schemes were identified at SSL, affecting 70 accounts, more than that which was initially anticipated, and other arrests are imminent. To date only one arrest has been made, and the alleged fraudster claimed she was coerced into confessing. What a messy state of affairs.

In any case, as a leading brokerage house with multiple government accounts, one has to wonder about the connections of this private entity to the State and if special concessions were granted by Government and its agencies when auditors flagged the company for blatant irregularities. I find it difficult to believe that management, owners, staff, regulators, and auditors were unaware that a massive fraud amounting to over US$10 million had been taking place over a time span of 10 plus years. The fraud must've been engrained in the culture of the company

SSL "makes investing easy", this according to SSL's social media page. The question everyone is now asking is: Were any politicians involved? Is there any connection with the "illicit six"? And if so, will anyone be held accountable under the law? Only time will tell.

Jamaica will never maximise its true potential to prosper until we tighten laws to reduce corruption and crime which facilitate illicit enrichment.

P Chin

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