Home » Week’s top news: SSL fraud increases amid resignations and house searches

Week’s top news: SSL fraud increases amid resignations and house searches

Week’s top news: SSL fraud increases amid resignations and house searches

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An image taken from a camera shows police and Financial Investigations Division (FID) agents about to search Jean-Ann Panton’s St. Andrew apartment on Friday. Panton is a former employee of Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL), which has been linked to a significant scam.

The news surrounding the fraud scandal currently engulfing investment firm Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL) and the scrutiny of SSL by its regulator, the Financial Services Commission (FSC), for its oversight, or lack thereof, are this week’s featured overall development and Newsmaker of the Week.
At a news conference on Wednesday, the FSC’s executive director, Everton McFarlane, stonewalled reporters and dodged questions about the organization’s own monitoring of SSL. A day later, McFarlane submitted his resignation.
Dr. Nigel Clarke, the Minister of Finance and the Public Service made the announcement along with the news that Kerron Burrell, the Chief Prudential Officer of the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ), will fill in as the FSC Executive Director.
While investigations into the alleged massive fraud at SSL are well underway, law enforcement officials and agents from the Finance Ministry’s Financial Investigations Division (FID) descended on Jean-Ann Panton’s apartment on Friday. Panton is a former employee of SSL who told private investigators that she stole sizable sums of money from the accounts of more than 30 people at the company.

The woman’s attorney, Tamika Harris, is furious over the statement’s social media distribution and the woman’s comprehensive description.

She refused to answer the question of how the material was made public.

She added, “I’m unhappy about it, and that’s all I’m going to say.”

As part of their investigation into “this scam,” the FID and the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s Fraud Squad want to “find all related people and bring them to justice.”

However, up until this point, sleuths have yet to determine the precise size of the SSL scam.

Panton has not yet been prosecuted in connection with the fraud. Still, the FID stated on Friday that she would be interrogated in anticipation of being charged by the police later.

A video showed Panton exiting a high-end car with the help of a walker and then getting into a wheelchair and being pushed inside the apartment in Hillsborough, St. Andrew during the search, which may have provided some light relief to the extremely serious nature of the whole issue.

In the presence of Panton and her attorney, officers searched the property and collected papers and computer equipment to help with the continuing investigation.

The head of the constabulary’s Corporate Communications Unit (CCU), Senior Superintendent Stephanie Lindsay, acknowledged that Panton was using a wheelchair but was unable to provide further information on her condition.

It’s interesting to note that Usain Bolt was not one of the people Panton listed in her testimony to the private investigators who were supposedly hired by SSL.

But on Tuesday, Bolt’s legal team gave SSL a 10-day deadline to restore his missing funds, which total more than US$12 million (Ja$1.8 billion), or face legal repercussions. There is only allegedly $12,000 in the former sprinter’s SSL account right now.

Given that scenario, Bolt would probably be SSL’s biggest financial loser, but he was not on Panton’s list of the more than 30 clients she is accused of defrauding.

Due to Bolt’s suspected involvement in investment business fraud, several international news outlets, such as the BBC, CNN, Blomberg, Forbes, and Al Jazeera, have covered the topic extensively.

On January 12, the SSL scam came to light after it was discovered that Bolt was one of the victims of theft at SSL. Last Monday, Clarke disclosed that the organization had also robbed numerous elderly people of money.

McFarlane and others called a press conference where he stated that a recommendation on the best course of action for the investment firm could come within weeks. Bolt’s team had threatened to file a lawsuit, and there was growing pressure on the FSC to explain how it had regulated SSL over the years.

Bolt Usain
Kenneth Tomlinson’s appointment as SSL’s interim manager was disclosed by the FSC a day earlier.

McFarlane explained that Tomlinson might make a proposal sooner than the Financial Services Commission Act’s 60-day deadline (2001).

He hasn’t been given much time. It’s weeks, not months. After the press conference on Wednesday morning, McFarlene said to Loop News, “We realize how vital it is and how powerful it is.

Speaking at the press conference, McFarlane said that while outrage at the revelation that certain SSL accounts have engaged in “questionable behaviors” for more than a decade, the issue of SSL should not be viewed as “symptomatic” of the larger sector.

The temporary manager would consider the accessibility of insurance as part of their assessment and recommendation-making process with an eye toward SSL customers.

According to McFarlane, SSL has fidelity insurance, which protects against losses brought on by workers’ dishonesty. But SSL’s insurance policy’s scope has yet to be made public.

Even as he avoided questioning regarding the commission’s monitoring of the now-scandalized organization, the then-FSC Executive Director called the alleged fraud at SSL a “despicable act of dishonesty.”

According to a source, the FSC had already identified SSL as a problematic firm due to its dubious business methods.

McFarlane said when questioned about the institution’s oversight: “We are aware that there are several issues that are of public concern.

“For example, questions about the FSC’s prior behavior, what we knew, when we knew it, and what we did. We are now limited in our capacity to provide answers to these inquiries.

Donia Fuller-Barrett, the FSC’s acting general legal counsel, stated that suspending a license, or “drawing the plug,” was a last choice and that businesses are given a chance to correct problems so as not to “shock the system.”

Nevertheless, McFarlane’s comments were seen as being suspect, and his performance during the press conference—which had audio problems for those watching on social media—left much to be desired.

Since the 2017 report from the FSC recognized that the investment business had “a culture of non-compliance and mishandling of customers’ cash,” many observers have come to the conclusion that the press conference emphasized FSC’s activities in ignoring the problems at SSL.

According to McFarlane, if problems arise, the FSC will allow parties time to rectify them or take corrective action, which may not be possible “the next day or the next month.”

Although he claimed SSL did not carry out the “corrective steps,” he claimed the FSC was monitoring the corrections.

Everton McFarlane

Therefore, he stated, “I cannot speak to the details, but obviously if there was a condition that required them (SSL) to meet certain duties… we would take action to suspend the license.”
McFarlane, though, affirmed that the license was not in question.
McFarlane was then asked further questions about an incident in 2020 when a cease and desist order was issued on SSL.
The then-FSC chief said, “There is no reason to assume that the same concerns persisted from 2017 through 2020.
In response, McFarlane said, “I will neither confirm nor reject anything. What you’re assuming is that somehow, between 2017 and 2020, nothing was done and that the acts that you allude about out of 2017 apply precisely to 2020.”

When questioned about whether the FSC intervened too late to solve the fraud problems at SSL that are currently emerging, McFarlane sounded firm and responded, “Those types of questions, at this moment in time, I am bound to comment.

“It’s not like we don’t know there are public interest issues, either.”

Despite his refusal to be questioned more about the number of people, he felt were engaged, he slammed individuals who were allegedly participating in the SSL fraud ring.

According to McFarlane, “This reprehensible act of dishonesty by one individual at SSL, and perhaps with accomplices, cannot be seen as emblematic of the risk for the entire sector.”

Dr. Nigel Clarke, Minister of Finance and the Public Service, promised that no investigative avenue will be left unexplored in the probe into the alleged fraud at the organization in a release issued late Thursday in response to the tense exchanges at the press briefing and pressure from citizens for the Government to act, particularly in light of the loss of funds from Bolt’s account at SSL.

“There will be complete openness. No information will be overlooked in the investigation into the suspected theft of cash, its beneficiaries, and those who planned and worked together to carry it out, according to Clarke.

Numerous concerns need to be clarified, he added, including how long it took for the regulatory and investigative agencies to be notified of the fraud and what steps were taken in the interim.

Dr. Nigel Clarke 
According to the minister, the investigation would look to discover if any assets were purchased using the fraud’s proceeds.

He continued by saying that, should such assets be discovered, every legal measure would be utilized to seize them to bring about forfeiture.

In his statement, Clarke added that the government of Jamaica “empathizes with all investors who have been touched in this way, and in especially those of old age who, at some point in the past, brought their working years to a stop.”

Prime Minister Andrew Holness responded to the SSL fraud charges on Friday after receiving several requests to do so, declaring himself “thoroughly appalled and outraged” by the claims.

While acknowledging the pain and upheaval that all Jamaicans are experiencing right now, Holness urged the people to avoid spreading rumors and making unfounded claims to avoid causing panic.

Holness said in a statement that the pertinent government departments and authorities had informed him on the subject.

To properly inform and direct any public statements he makes on the subject, he claimed that the briefing is crucial.

According to Holness, “I am completely disturbed and saddened by discoveries in the public domain around this situation, like other Jamaicans, at home and abroad.”

The prime minister went on to say, “I am extremely worried and empathetic to all those hardworking Jamaicans who, at this time, are unsure of the status of cash they have invested with the institution in the issue.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness

A national icon who has given us all so much pride is also a victim of the alleged scam, he continued, “although every investor’s sorrow must be treated equally, there is a component of a heightened public sense of betrayal, which I share.”

After receiving the briefing, Holness claimed he can “confidently” state to the country that all pertinent government agencies are aware of how important this situation is, how much the people care, and how the victims suffering.

There has been a lot of discussion about the SSL scandal and associated events on various social media sites.

Godley Dempster, a Facebook user, responded to Clarke’s promise that the issue will be thoroughly probed by saying, “Talk, talk, talk, and more talk.”

Joke of the century, wrote Paulette Jackson, another user.

She asserted that when governments on both sides couldn’t do the job, all they did was move their friends and followers from one place to another.

Social media users provided feedback on the prime minister’s statement on the SSL fraud ring.

“Too little, too late, and nothing new from the PM,” said Jean Abrahams. paper may have been saved.

“We know investigations are happening, Mr. Prime Minister, but we want all white collar criminals to be caught and charged like the poor man, not only the tiny man, sir, but every major man involved for jail, sir,” said Richard Dennis.

Clifton Whittacker commented on the executive director of the FSC resigning, writing: “Waste of time.

The public has to be aware of the large, useless fish that stole Sir Usain Bolt’s hard-earned money, he said.

“Good, the press conference yesterday (Wednesday) was a catastrophe and an embarrassment,” Sharla Simpson said.

“That press conference was terrible, and the man couldn’t answer simple questions and (a) educated people on issues,” said Dorothy Maxwell.

In the meantime, Facebook user Shanna Lee commented on Friday’s development on the search of the apartment building held by the former SSL employee who has been accused of fraud: “All the assets should be seized and the property should be put on auction sale.”

Yvonne Griffiths shared: “A warrant to search the house and recover assets ought to have been obtained from this bus. Kmt. What would you anticipate to discover given her knowledge and expertise? Unu has to make up lost time.”

Nica Clarke added: “It’s time to move. The victims must receive their money returned with justification “.


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