The followingnis a statement from Prime Minister Andrew Holness in relation to the billion fraud scheme being investigated at investment firm Stocks and Securities Limited. He acknowledged that the SSL fraud has sparked fear and general concern, Mr Holness asserted that there is no need for panic about the strength and soundness of the financial system. He pointed to significant reforms implemented over the last two decades that have resulted in Jamaica having a strong and vibrant financial services system.
The following is the full text of Prime Minister Holness' statement:
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This morning I received a general briefing from the Minister of Finance and the Public Service, representatives of the Financial Services Commission and Financial Investigations Division, the Commissioner of Police, and the Attorney General’s Department, on allegations of significant fraud which is of national concern, at Stocks and Securities Limited, a non-bank financial institution.
This briefing was important to properly inform and guide any public pronouncements I may make on the matter. Like all Jamaicans, at home and abroad, I am thoroughly disgusted and upset by revelations in the public domain surrounding this matter. I am very concerned and sympathetic to all those hard-working Jamaicans who at this moment are uncertain of the status of funds they have invested with the institution in question. While every investor’s distress must be equally acknowledged, there is a dimension of a heightened public sense of betrayal, which I share, that a National Icon who has brought so much pride to all of us, is also a victim of the alleged fraud.
Having had the benefit of the brief, I can confidently say to the nation that all the relevant Government entities are seized of the urgent nature of this matter, the great public concern, and the suffering of the victims. I am satisfied that the entities understand the implications and the potentially complex nature of this matter, and the need for transparency, diligence, and prudence in all their operations. The coordination, within the law, among the various entities was also evident, which is a good sign for efficient and timely action.
A thorough investigation is being undertaken to identify the perpetrators and colluders involved in the fraudulent activity and bring them to justice, as well as to trace the funds and secure forfeiture of assets acquired with stolen funds.
The affected investors and the public can be assured that the investigative and prosecutorial agencies have the necessary competencies and resources, and have already started to act decisively to gather information and evidence. No effort will be spared in uncovering the full extent of fraudulent activity and in bringing the perpetrators to justice.
While this matter has sparked immediate fear and general concern, there is absolutely no need for panic about the strength and soundness of the financial system as a whole. As a result of significant reforms implemented over the last two decades, Jamaica has a strong and vibrant financial system in which the public can have confidence. It is recognised as the leading financial market in the region and a source of competitive advantage for us.
The public can rest assured that the Government will be proactive in ensuring that there is accountability and probity in the exercise of public functions and that our policy and administrative response is effective in continually strengthening the financial sector and protecting the investing public. The Minister of Finance and the Public Service has already indicated that he will update the public on certain policy and administrative actions that the Government has already decided to give effect.
While I understand the hurt and upset all Jamaicans feel at this time, I urge the public not to fuel panic through speculation and baseless assertions. Given, the potentially complex and litigious nature of these matters, the Government must ensure that it verifies every bit of information it gives to the public. This may sometimes create a short lag in updates and responses. The public should also be aware that, for legal and other reasons, the authorities will not be able to respond to all assertions made in the public domain. This means that the public must exercise caution and patience in how they rely on unconfirmed information. We are aware that there may be persons with narrow agendas seeking to influence markets and investor decisions,
promote false narratives, and create instability. Therefore, I have stressed the importance of transparency and accountability to the various Government agencies, as this is the only way to secure public confidence.
The Government will ensure that the laws and systems in place work, for the benefit of general public good, accountability for those responsible, and justice for those negatively affected.