MONTEGO BAY, January 23, 2023 - Opposition Leader Mark Golding wants the Auditor General to conduct an investigation of the operations of the Financial Services Commission (FSC) as this would speed up critical information needed to get to the bottom of what he called the fiasco at the SSL.
Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, the Opposition Leader also recommended that international forensic expertise be sought to support local law enforcement efforts because the track record of Jamaica dealing with major fraud is not great.
Mr. Golding pointed out that “It is vital that whatever assets that may have been taken away from that institution, be traces to wherever those funds are now so that the clients of that firm who have been fleeced and will be facing substantial losses can at least have their losses reduced or even made whole if that were possible,” he said.
Golding,told the media that there appeared 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.
He added 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.
Also speaking at the news conference was Opposition Spokesman on Finance Finance Julian Robinson who said the country needed answers to questions surrounding the missing funds, and 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.
"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.
Mr. Robinson joined the Opposition Leader in requesting that overseas investigators be brought in to help gather the evidence necessary for a successful prosecution of those implicated in the Stocks and Securities Limited fraud. He said, given Jamaica's lack of experience in successfully prosecuting persons accused of white collar crimes, there is need for outside assistance.
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.
Among those said to have been affected by the massive fraud is Track and Field superstar Usain Bolt who is said to have lost in excess of US 12-million dollars from the SSL investment firm. Bolt's lawyers have given the investment firm ten days to refund his money.