Jamaica PM pledges to uncover extent of fraud at investment firm

Prime Minister Andrew Holness, says no effort will be spared in uncovering the full extent of fraudulent activity at the investment firm, Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL) and bringing the perpetrators to justice.

The Prime Minister gave this undertaking in a statement on Friday where he said he was “upset and disgusted”at the revelations.

Holness, who indicated that he was briefed on the matter, said he is concerned and sympathetic to the hard-working Jamaicans who are uncertain of the status of their funds invested with SSL.

He noted that while every investor’s distress must be equally acknowledged, “there is a dimension of a heightened public sense of betrayal, which I share, that a National Icon who has brought so much pride to all of us, is also a victim of the alleged fraud”.

The Prime Minister said that a thorough investigation is being undertaken to identify the perpetrators and colluders involved in the fraudulent activity, as well as to trace the stolen funds and secure forfeiture of assets acquired with these.

“The Government will ensure that the laws and systems in place work for the benefit of the general public good, accountability for those responsible, and justice for those negatively affected,” he emphasised.

“The affected investors and the public can be assured that the investigative and prosecutorial agencies have the necessary competencies and resources, and have already started to act decisively to gather information and evidence,” he added.

The Prime Minister said that while the matter has sparked immediate fear and general concern, there is no need for panic about the strength and soundness of the financial system.

He noted that, as a result of significant reforms implemented over the last two decades, Jamaica has a strong and vibrant financial system in which the public can have confidence, adding that it is recognised as the leading financial market in the region.

“The public can rest assured that the Government will be proactive in ensuring that there is accountability and probity in the exercise of public functions, and that our policy and administrative response is effective in continually strengthening the financial sector and protecting the investing public,” he said.

Holness urged the public to exercise caution and patience as the investigation proceeds, and not to fuel panic through speculations and baseless assertions.

He noted that given the potentially complex and litigious nature of these matters, the Government must ensure that it verifies every bit of information it gives to the public.

“I have stressed the importance of transparency and accountability to the various Government agencies, as this is the only way to secure public confidence,” he said.

The Prime Minister said that Finance and Public Service Minister, Dr. Nigel Clarke, has indicated that he will update the public on certain policy and administrative actions of the Government on the matter.

Clarke recently announced  that Chief Prudential Officer at the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ), Kerron Burrell, has been seconded to the Financial Services Commission (FSC) to head the SSL following the resignation of FSC Executive Director, Everton McFarlane, effective January 31

Ken Tomlinson of Business Recovery Services Limited has been appointed the Special Auditor and is also serving as the securities firm’s Temporary Manager. (CMC)

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