JAMAICA | Kerron Burrell to temporarily head FSC says Nigel Clarke

JAMAICA | Kerron Burrell to temporarily head FSC says Nigel Clarke

KINGSTON,Jamaica, January 23, 2023 - Finance and Public Service Minister Dr. Nigel Clarke, says Chief Prudential Officer at the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ), Kerron Burrell, has been seconded to the Financial Services Commission (FSC) to head the agency’s operations, following the resignation of Executive Director, Everton McFarlane, effective January 31, 2023.

Mr. McFarlane’s resignation comes in the wake of alleged fraudulent activities being investigated at the investment firm, Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL).

Dr. Clarke said Mr. Burrell, who is in charge of the prudential supervision of all BOJ-supervised deposit-taking institutions, will head the FSC “until further notice”.

He also indicated that while Mr. McFarlane’s resignation, which was tendered on Thursday, is effective January 31, “he proceeded on leave on Friday, January 20.”

Dr. Clarke, in a subsequent statement, assured that no stone will be left unturned in unearthing exactly how funds were allegedly stolen, and those who benefited, organised and collaborated such theft.

Noting that preliminary updates show several elderly investors are among those defrauded, he said the Government empathises with all investors who have been impacted, while emphasising that SSL’s directors and managers will have to account for their stewardship.

He has given the Government’s commitment of full transparency and disclosure into the alleged fraudulent activities.

Dr. Clarke also assured that investigative authorities, such as the Financial Investigations Division (FID) and Fraud Squad, have the operational independence to pursue the investigation.

The Minister further indicated that if the investigations determine that assets were acquired with proceeds of the alleged fraudulent activities, all legal steps will be taken to restrain those, with the intention of full forfeiture.

Dr. Clarke, who said the matter being investigated has been the “source of public discussion and anxiety,” acknowledged that “at this time, it is tempting to doubt our financial institutions”.

“But I would ask that we don’t paint an entire hard-working industry with the brush of a few very dishonest individuals,” he urged, while expressing “great confidence in the investigative authorities to unravel all aspects of this [matter] and bring all perpetrators to justice”.

Meanwhile, the BOJ, in a statement, indicated that its supervised deposit-taking institutions, comprising commercial banks, building societies, and one merchant bank, remain adequately capitalised, liquid, safe and secure.

Additionally, the Central Bank said its ongoing regulatory oversight of these institutions “remains rigorous”.

The BOJ alluded to recent reports of alleged fraud involving financial institutions and intimated its concern about these developments and their potential to negatively affect confidence in Jamaica’s financial system.

“The Central Bank notes that in the recent case of alleged fraud at a commercial bank, the stringent internal controls insisted on by the BOJ assisted in the early detection of irregular transactions and ensured that the risk was kept to a minimal level, relative to the capitalisation of the institution,” the BOJ pointed out.

The Bank of Jamaica advised that the institutions it supervises are required by law to have all their assets and liabilities recorded on balance sheets and is working with them to continuously upgrade and strengthen their internal safeguard controls.

This entails ensuring fraud prevention and early detection systems, including the deployment of advanced, technological reporting and analytic tools at globally accepted levels.

“The basis of a strong and resilient financial system is the confidence clients have in knowing that their funds are safe and secure and can be accessed in a timely manner. Bank of Jamaica continues to work with all stakeholders to ensure that this confidence is maintained,” the Central Bank said.

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