Mon | Dec 4, 2023

Mark Wignall | More heat under SSL pot

Published:Sunday | September 10, 2023 | 12:07 AM
SSL office on Hope Road.
SSL office on Hope Road.
Dr Lloyd Cole
Dr Lloyd Cole

We have been communicating now for over a year. His skills are in forensic accounting. Since the SSL scandal broke, we have been in touch more than usual. “As I hinted at in our last talk, more investors who have been fleeced have been identified and even more money was stolen. I have a feeling that even more “big people” are involved.

“At this point, if an additional 10 million has been identified as being stolen, considering Mr Bolt’s loss, then the loss to date is over 20 million US. So the question may become, which “big names” are not involved? Indications are that investor money was fleeced to make investments in companies and entities connected to …. and that key connected individuals also helped themselves. Quite an organised fraud.”

Immediately after the daring daytime armed robbery of another Beryllium money-transport vehicle (in Mandeville), where millions were taken, social media reminded us that many parts of our society are more brutally frank and honest than others. Two women were praising the armed men and making them out to be heroes. That sentiment has existed in many parts of dense, inner-city communities for many decades now.

In the 1970s, the notorious gunman named Dennis Barth (Copper) was widely loved at street level, especially by many of those who knew him least. His infamy made him a community hero.

Fact is our people have always lionised the unwashed but ‘heroic’ armed desperadoes of the ghetto. Let us not pretend that they do not also draw lines of convergence on the SSL scandal, another Beryllium movie set and the don’s team counting out the extortion money. Somewhere in all of that, many of us can afford to award the Government its big honorific of social unviability.

The objectives are the same: wealth building by any means possible, with some playing around at dizzying heights. A reader emailed me a few days ago. ‘I am not confident that the JCF or any local law enforcement or enforcement entity should be involved in the investigation because there are bound to be “leaks” and sensitive information being provided to those “big names”. In Jamaica, it would be hard to keep the targets of the investigation in the dark. It looks like this SSL saga could be Jamaica’s version of Bernie Madoff.


About two decades ago, my ex-wife was at a karaoke spot, where she met medical doctor Dr Lloyd Cole. The message she delivered to me was that he wanted to see me about a most important matter.

When we eventually met, the matter was about Jamaica using its unique spot on the shipping lanes on this part of the globe’s quadrant to build out in Jamaica a dry dock to accommodate the vessels up to the Panamax size. Dr Cole was not just a man whose ideas died the moment he expressed them.

He spent his own money, travelling to various countries and large shipping hubs and logistics layouts. He was more respected abroad than he was at home. It was his very firm idea that the island of Jamaica was ideally suited to use the drydock to launch a transformation of many areas of our country, our economy.

At times, there were a few politicians who allowed him space with them on the podium. But nothing made them silently laugh at him behind his back more than his foolish belief that high-ego politicians would allow him to appear to claim ownership of such a transformative development when that was never his objective.

“So many ships leaving here for other destinations to do their regular drydock requirements,” he would constantly complain to me. ‘We get them in our hands, and year after year we allow this business to run away from us.”

He had people who were ready to make the investment, but the red tape that was government and the need for ‘names’ to claim ownership held it back.

Taken from Marine Link of September 7 . ‘German Ship Repair Jamaica Limited (GSRJ), a private joint venture of German, Turkish, and Jamaican investors, has welcomed its first floating dock to Jamaica as part of plans to open a new shipyard later this year.

“The 215 meters-long Panamax-size dock was towed across the Atlantic by the deep-sea tug Titan from its previous home port in Bremerhaven, Germany. The dock arrived in Kingston on August 24 and is now moored at its new home port at the GSRJ Shipyard in Kingston Harbour, where it will be commissioned in the weeks ahead.”

Prostate cancer took away Dr Cole a few years ago. A good man who served his community well, who gave back to the people, who could have given much more. If only he knew how to play by the rules of politics.

I look forward to the full utilisation of this floating drydock.


The rich man does not employ a chauffeur because it is socially hip to do so. It is a simple business decision. And the deal turns a healthy profit. The rich man needs his thoughts much more focused than on using his hands to navigate a car. If he pays the driver $50,000, in that time he has probably made $500,000.

It is not that every minute of a rich man’s life is taken up with making another million dollars. He usually has a wife making millions, too, and there is the smell of new leather in the car and the dearly beloved Rottweiler.

The poor man stops by the gas pump. Two thousand 90 gas. Must pass by the woman to give her 6,000. She has to take her baby to the clinic tomorrow. That’s four hours until she sees the doctor. The rich man could barely afford the 20 minutes he had to wait yesterday to see his medical specialist.

The rich man had to pull his gun last week. Extortionists raiding his site. He worked out a deal with them. The poor man drives in and parks in the narrow space. He smells dinner. Tomorrow, weekend, he must pay ‘street taxes’.

The rich man is dropped off at the front door. The councillor is in the living room. More taxes.

Mark Wignall is a political and public affairs analyst. Send feedback to and