Fri | Dec 9, 2016

A long wait for closure

Published:Sunday | September 14, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Nigel Coke

No joy for Adventists whose money blew up in Ponzi smoke!

Erica Virtue, Senior Gleaner Writer

Nearly a decade after some members of the Seventh-day Adventist faith were wooed to contribute their hard-earned cash into a burial scheme to be administered by the church, they are no closer to any word on how or when they will get back their money.

Thousands of church members lost everything after their money disappeared in a failed scheme operated by Intertrade Finance Corporation Limited.

Some church members also lost the chance of contributing to another burial scheme as they were past the cut-off age of 74 years for family members to access funeral benefits.

LOSS OF COVERAGE

"I just bawled and bawled. I bawled for myself and others, especially some older women who I know were unable to get additional coverage because they were advanced in years. I hear that some people got back some money but I do not know what was the criteria for determining who got back money and who didn't, but I did not get a cent," said one church member who asked that her name not be reported.

According to the church member, some persons contemplated court action to recover the thousands of dollars they lost but were persuaded not to do so.

Allegations are that between September 2007 and December 2008, the Jamaica Union Conference formerly known as West Indies Union Conference, of Seventh-day Adventists, invested almost $60 million into the scheme after it was advised to diversify its portfolio.

Under the scheme, Intertrade agreed to pay a guaranteed 75 per cent to 100 per cent as interest upon maturity of the investment. However, the payout never came as the scheme crashed.

Intertrade's chief financial officer, Leroy Paul, was subsequently arrested by the police, but the company's chief executive officer, Joan Powell, evaded the cops and has reportedly been on the run since then.

"I have not heard of the lady being found and arrested, and I have not heard of the Adventists getting back their money," Nigel Coke, communications director for West Indies Union Con-ference of Seventh-day Adventists told The Sunday Gleaner. According to Coke, as far as he was aware the matter remained unsettled.