FID still ‘following the evidence’ as SSL probe silence sparks public concern
The investigation into the alleged multibillion-dollar fraud at the investment firm Stocks and Security (SSL) is “progressing”, according to Selvin Hay, chief technical director and head of the Financial Investigations Division (FID).
Though declining to outline any significant movement in the case since former SSL wealth advisor Jean-Ann Panton was charged in February, Hay yesterday told The Gleaner: “Investigators settle down, knuckle down, and do their investigation, and when we reach a stage where we can progress the case, arrest other people, that is done.”
On concerns from some members of the public that the case has gone ‘quiet’, Hay said that “an investigation is really not a calendar event. It’s a process. We have to follow the evidence”.
On Wednesday, Finance and the Public Service Minister Dr Nigel Clarke said the Government remained committed to a thorough investigation of the fraud that emerged in January and captured global attention because one of the alleged victims included sports icon Usain Bolt.
“The policy directive remains unchanged – leave no stone unturned; pursue this wherever it leads and get international help. We in the political directorate are responsible for policy, and the policy remains unchanged,” Clarke said during a post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House.
The FID is a division within the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service with a focus on deterring the use of Jamaica’s economy for money laundering and other financial crimes.
It has been working with other local bodies, including the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency, the police Fraud Squad, as well as the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, from which the Government sought assistance when the case emerged.
Panton is the only person charged so far in the fraud that the authorities say spanned at least a decade and involved about $3 billion. In a statement of admission, Panton said she created fake permissions used to authorise withdrawals from clients’ investment accounts though clients were getting statements showing their investments doing well.
RULING FOR CAMPBELL
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is expected to rule in July whether Caydion Campbell was duly appointed by SSL as a trustee to reorganise the company.
Securities regulator, the Financial Services Commission (FSC), which obtained an injunction in January blocking the move, has argued that by appointing a trustee, SSL was seeking to dissolve its operations and that “clients will not recover their funds and/or assets”.
Campbell has rejected the allegations, noting that his appointment was communicated to the FSC and ultimately took place on January 16, one day before the regulator took temporary management of the 50-year-old firm and named Kenneth Tomlinson as temporary manager.
In a Supreme Court filing on March 10, the FSC declared that SSL was “insolvent”, saying that the company did not have enough money to pay its debts. The FSC says, based on its investigations, SSL was in the red at the time it applied to the Companies Office of Jamaica to be dissolved.
The regulator has also sought the courts’ permission to present a petition under the Companies Act for the winding-up or liquidating of SSL; leave to appoint Tomlinson as trustee; and confirmation of “full and exclusive powers of management” of SSL vested in the FSC effective January 17.
Soon after the SSL fraud was exposed, The Gleaner brought to light a 2017 FSC report which flagged the company as operating “a culture of non-compliance and mismanagement of client funds”, prompting questions about its regulatory oversight and forcing the Holness administration to announce a series of reform measures.