Mon | Aug 21, 2017

No Cash Plus payday - Gov't trustee says still no end in sight; losses now stand at $19 billion

Published:Thursday | June 8, 2017 | 6:00 AMLivern Barrett
Former Cash Plus boss, Carlos Hill.

Two weeks after former Cash Plus boss Carlos Hill was freed of fraud charges, the state agency handling the liquidation of his failed unregulated investment scheme has signalled that depositors should not expect a full refund anytime soon.

The Office of the Government Trustee revealed yesterday that the losses to Cash Plus depositors have been calculated at just over $19 billion, almost doubling the initial reports.

The figure is based on the 35,000 claims the trustee's office says it received from approxi-mately 21,000 depositors for $J17.5 billion, US$23.3 million, UK£413,500, and CDN$93,000.

However, the office reports that since the start of the liquidation process in July 2008, it has collected a total of J$827.5 million and US$1.16 million, mainly through debt collection as well as the sale and rental of properties owned by the Cash Plus entities.

 

INSUFFICIENT FUNDS

 

According to the government trustee, this amount was not only "insufficient to make a dividend payment of any significant portion" to depositors, but, for several reasons, it could not be immediately used to pay creditors.

"These include the continuation of investigations to identify and recover Cash Plus assets within and outside the jurisdiction, the inability of the Trustee to quickly dispose of assets given the need to resolve legal and other issues, and the need to individually review and verify claims and identify and remove duplications," the agency explained.

 

POSSIBLE IN THE FUTURE

 

The Office of the Government Trustee said that it also needed to determine the amount of funds available to pay dividends and make priority payments such as wages, redundancy payments, taxes, and contribution to the National Insurance Scheme and the National Housing Trust for former Cash Plus employees.

"Once these steps have been completed, a dividend payment of a nominal proportion may be possible in the future," the agency said in a statement released yesterday.

It has been a long wait and several unfulfilled promises for Cash Plus depositors since the entity ceased operations in 2008.

Hill was arrested and charged with attempting to and fraudulently inducing persons to invest in his investment scheme, which promised significant returns on deposits over a short period. On May 24, a seven-member jury found him not guilty of all charges after prosecutors announced that they were offering no evidence against him.

Prosecutor Adley Duncan, in explaining the decision, said that only 16 of the 40,000 persons who claimed to have deposited money in Cash Plus had agreed to testify at Hill's trial, but only one turned up.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com