SSL senior managers distancing themselves from massive fraud
the Stocks and Securities Ltd building on Hope Road in St Andrew. The company is embroiled in a multi-billion-dollar fraud.

Current and former senior managers at scandal-hit Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL), which is currently embroiled in a multi-billion-dollar fraud, are desperate to clear their names and are distancing themselves from the shenanigans that have left dozens of the firm's clients, including national icon Usain Bolt, with depleted accounts.

While unwilling to be named because of the ongoing investigation into what is being dubbed the biggest fraud in Jamaica's history, a former senior manager told the Jamaica Observer, "Us former and current managers are making it clear that we were not aware of any misappropriation of clients' funds, neither were we aware that Usain Bolt had an account with SSL."

The former senior manager went as far as to suggest that investigators need to look at other people who were more intimately involved in the day-to-day running of the company, and who served in senior management at SSL for longer periods.

None of the senior managers at SSL, the source said, would have been aware of an account for Bolt for the simple reason that there was no account in his name. That has been previously stated by Zachary Harding, who served as CEO from September 2019 to June 2022.

According to one Observer source, no deposits were made in Bolt's name; rather they were deposited through a limited liability company. That information was corroborated by Bolt's attorney Linton Gordon in a January 16 letter to SSL demanding that Bolt's money be returned, facing which the company would face legal action.

In that letter, Gordon stated that at October 31, 2022 the account had a balance of US$12.75 million ($2 billion). However, the account now contains a mere US$12,000 ($1.8 million).

SSL has some 9,000 accounts in brokerage, 6,000 of which are active. There are an additional 300 accounts which are under private wealth management. Those with balances of US$10 million and above would automatically show up during an audit.

"Any account that had US$10 million or more obviously would have come up on a report. It would have come up in an audit to show, hey, this is one of your top customers," the source said.

The source also questioned whether the funds Bolt thought he was investing ever made it to the account, or were diverted after the deposits were made.

"If it [the account balance] never came up on a report and none of the senior management ever knew about it, it was because the amount of money in the account …was not to the level of [one of our top clients]," said the source.

A potential headache for Bolt and his legal team is the possibility that the statement they got from SSL indicating a balance of US$12.75 million could have been nothing more than a fabrication, the source argued.

The Financial Services Commission, which is being raked over the coals for what is perceived as its lax oversight of an entity it dubbed a "problem institution" in 2017, has already sent an interim manager into SSL.

Up to 40 people are said to be impacted by the fraud which has not been fully quantified by investigators.

Speaking specifically to the Bolt account, the Observer source argued that: "You can't hide $2 billion. If J$2 billion or whatever you convert it into moves out of a bank account, there's something to indicate that movement. There's a transfer and a wire that was sent from account 1,2,3,4, to this person's account. If that evidence is not there, then perhaps it never went into SSL's account to begin with."

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