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Olint hopes dim - Investors meet, anger stirred, still no word on money

Published:Tuesday | February 9, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer

Members of alternative investment scheme Olint were left fuming and with little hope yesterday as they emerged from a meeting aimed at updating them on efforts to recover their money.

"I just can't be confident. It (Olint's collapse) has thrown our lives in shambles," declared Horace Brown, who walked with his wife and son from a meeting, which threatened to explode, at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston yesterday.

Brown lamented that he had lived frugally and had invested all he could salvage.

He was barely able to conceal his fury, and he is not alone.

Many other Olint investors have signalled that they, too, are afraid to hope, so great is their disappointment and so heavy their loss.

But while Brown harbours the fear of being jolted by another huge disappointment, he said he dared not stay away from the meeting.

"I have to be here to see if there is any possibility of regaining anything," he told The Gleaner.

"We just want what we put in, even if we don't get the interest," his wife Millicent chimed in.

Other investors who attended one of the two meetings yesterday shared Brown's scepticism.

"I don't expect anything from them," declared president of Immigration Consultant Services Inc, Ainsley Blair.

"But I am here because I didn't want them to say that I didn't show up ... . This is crazy!" he declared.

A mixture of anger, frustration and impatience was etched on the faces of many Olint investors who attended the two meetings at the conference centre to hear the latest on their elusive investments.

A team of security personnel was instructed to keep the media away from the gathering of investors.

But not even tight security could block the simmering anger, which burnt its way into the venue.

The meeting was convened by Olint liquidator, Joseph Connolly, to update investors on the progress he had made in recovering their money.

Furious

As if to confirm the cynicism shared by Blair and Brown, two female investors left the first meeting, obviously furious.

Asked if they had got any word on when their investment would be forthcoming, one of the women angrily responded in the negative.

"Only that the liquidator has been paid $400,000!" she fumed.

One of the women said investors were informed of the involvement of the United States in the Olint probe.

Blair corroborated the woman's claim that the US authorities were involved.

"The State Department has taken up the Olint matter ... . They have gone to The Turks and Caicos Islands to carry out their own investigations."

In July 2008, members of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force raided Smith's house and seized documents and computers.

Olint boss David Smith was arrested in February last year and again in June, and charged with several criminal offences including theft, false accounting and uttering false documents in the British territory.

Blair told The Gleaner/Power 106 News Centre that he had invested US$15 million in the Smith-led company.

He revealed that a portion of those monies were from Americans who had entrusted the funds to him to invest.

Blair told The Gleaner that 30 per cent of the US$15 million belonged to US citizens.

He said other Americans had invested in the failed investment club.

Blair claimed the US authorities had enlisted his assistance in reclaiming the funds the Americans had invested.

He said he felt obligated to assist the US as he had invested the money of some US citizens in Olint.

"If I am able to track down some of the funds, then the Americans will get back their money," he said.

gary.spaulding@gleanerjm.com