US probing World Wise boss
Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer
United States law-enforcement authorities have indicated that they are conducting background checks on Noel Strachan, the head of the failed investment scheme World Wise Partners, and have sought the assistance of the Jamaican police.
Police sources told The Gleaner that US authorities have also informed their Jamaican counterparts that Strachan, who is believed to be residing in Florida, has applied for US citizenship and the background checks were part of the process.
According to one source, US Secret Service agents met with high-ranking members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force in Kingston recently to get an update on their probe into the collapse of World Wise.
"They are aware that we are conducting some investigations (into the collapse of World Wise) and they wanted to know what we have and how best they could collaborate," a source with knowledge of the meeting told The Gleaner.
The source said local investigators have asked US authorities to make a formal request for details of the World Wise investigations through the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
When contacted yesterday, Deputy Commissioner of Police Glenmore Hinds, who is in charge of operations, said he could not confirm or deny the information.
Promise of returns
World Wise Partners was one of a rash of unregulated investment schemes that lured investors with the promise of returns as high as 200 per cent a year, which mushroomed in Jamaica in the 1990s.
Like many others, it began to crumble after the Financial Services Commission issued a cease-and-desist order in August 2008.
This triggered a slew of civil suits as investors, local and overseas, tried to recover hundreds of millions of dollars pumped into the organisation.
Last month, the Fraud Squad announced, during a Gleaner Editors' Forum, that it had re-opened its investigations into the collapse of the scheme with a two-pronged approach.
Superintendent Colbert Edwards, who heads the Fraud Squad, said then that the police would not rule out the possibility of using the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty to have Strachan extradited to Jamaica if the probe leads to criminal charges being filed against him.
He said in addition to probing allegations made by several investors, the Fraud Squad would look into the possibility of filing charges against World Wise for operating without the required regulatory approval.