I have no funds with SSL, says Holness

Prime Minister Andrew Holness on Tuesday made it clear that he has no investments with Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL), the securities dealer at the centre of a massive fraud maelstrom which is now being probed by Jamaican and overseas law enforcement agencies, including the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations.

Holness made the disclosure saying that it was in keeping with the general direction he had given to the Government regarding transparency in the matter that has caught international attention due to the fact that sprint legend Usain Bolt is among the victims of the multi-billion-dollar fraud.

“As I previously disclosed to the public in February 2016, I held an investment brokerage account with Stocks and Securities Limited. This account was opened in 2008 and has formed part of my statutory declarations since,” the prime minister said in a statement.

“In September 2021, I liquidated the last remaining financial instrument managed by SSL on my behalf and gave instructions for my account to be closed. I have no funds currently with SSL and I have not done any business with SSL since September 2021. I wish to also make it clear that neither I, nor any member of my family, have ever borrowed from SSL or received any form of credit facility from SSL,” he added.

He said he had asked all Cabinet ministers to check and disclose the status of any accounts or investment relationships their ministries or agencies may have with SSL and noted that the National Housing Trust (NHT) as well as the National Health Fund (NHF) “have already made their release in keeping with this directive”.

Earlier the NHF issued a release disclosing that it holds Government of Jamaica (GOJ) bonds valued at $740,563,020 as at January 24, 2023 at SSL.

The agency explained that when it participated in the national debt exchange in 2013, in which GOJ bonds were purchased, SSL was one of the brokers.

The NHF said it, therefore, considers its investment in the GOJ bonds “to be safe and in good standing”.

On Monday Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke had told journalists that the NHF was one of five public bodies with investments at SSL. The others are National Housing Trust with $238 million; National Insurance Scheme, $8.4 million; Jamaica Agricultural Society, $8.9 million; and Jamaica Banana Industry Catastrophe Fund, $98,285.

Prime Minister Holness, in his statement on Tuesday, said the current allegations of fraud at SSL and the international attention they have drawn to the country’s financial sector require a commitment to the highest level of transparency, probity, and accountability.

“The public must be assured that the political class has no conflict of interest that would prevent, delay, or dilute efforts to ensure that the truth of the allegations is uncovered, those responsible are held to account, and the victims receive justice,” Holness said.

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