USAIN BOLT’S company that’s allegedly been fleeced of almost $2 billion in an alleged fraud at Stocks & Securities Limited (SSL) is seeking a court order for accused Jean-Ann Panton to disclose whether she has been moving assets at two of Jamaica’s banks.
The application by Welljen, Bolt’s holding company, will be heard tomorrow by Supreme Court Justice Cresencia Brown Beckford in chambers at 10:30 a.m.
Bolt’s attorneys, Frater Ennis & Gordon, are seeking the order for Panton to reveal any transactions involving the financial institutions to bolster a freezing order they obtained against Panton’s assets in February.
That order provides for Panton’s assets up to the amount of US$6 million-plus to be frozen. A production order had also been made for Panton to provide a statement of all her assets, real estate holdings, shares and stocks, among others.
Bolt opened an account in the name of his holding company Welljen at the private investment and brokerage firm in 2012.
The account value plummeted from $2 billion (US$12.7 million) in October 2022 to J$1.8 million or US$12,000 in January when he checked, following an alert from Panton, his legal team has said.
Welljen’s case is being heard together with a suit that investor Jean Forde, 80, filed against SSL and 10 other defendants including Panton and SSL’s founder Hugh Croskery. Forde is alleging that she was defrauded of US$830,000.
CONFESSED BECAUSE OF CROSKERY ‘OFFER’
In a stunning development, Panton, the only person charged in the fraud case, has claimed she “confessed” because of an alleged “offer” from Croskery, her former boss.
The former client relationship manager made the assertion in her defence filed in Forde’s case. Croskery is the third defendant.
“In trepidation, the second defendant (Panton) says that the background of the alleged confession was premised on an offer made by the third defendant (Croskery) on behalf of the first defendant (SSL). The said offer was an inducement and the statement would not have been made otherwise,” she said in the document filed in the Supreme Court on May 25.
She continued: “The second defendant (Panton) therefore puts the claimant to strictly prove the validity of the alleged confession statement and allegations according to law.”
Details of the so-called offer were not disclosed.
Croskery’s attorney, King’s Counsel Peter Champagnie, said Panton’s latest allegation “does not accord with my instructions from Croskery”.
“I would not want to venture into a discourse concerning what it is that Panton is alleged to have said. Her matter is best before the court and it is best dealt with in the court,” he told The Gleaner yesterday.
According to the signed confession statement dated January 7, 2023, Panton admitted that she “used various mechanisms to take money from clients” and that she “created false statements to provide to the clients reflecting what they should have in their accounts and not the sum they actually had in their accounts”.
She added that she stole the money “over the course of several years”.
The statement, which was made to SSL as part of an internal investigation, named 39 clients whose accounts had a total value of over $700 million.
Panton said she took approximately 20 per cent of that sum, in addition to a further $109 million.
Bolt’s company was not mentioned on the list and SSL said in a subsequent statement that it was unaware that the portfolio was affected.
“I feel remorse for my actions,” Panton said in the statement that bears a seal and signature from a justice of the peace.
A note at the end of the statement said: “I gave the above statement... voluntarily and of my own free will and I am of sound mind. I confirm that I obtained legal advice before swearing to this statement and the said statement was given in the presence of my attorney-at-law.”
Panton, who worked at SSL for over 25 years until she was dismissed in January, was charged in February. That’s just over a month after SSL reported the fraud to the regulator Financial Services Commission (FSC) on January 10.
On January 17, the FSC took temporary management of the company which is involved in a court battle with the regulator over the appointment of a trustee. The fight has reached the Court of Appeal.
Last week, the chief technical director and head of the Financial Investigations Division, Selvin Hay, said the investigation into the case is “progressing”.
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 regulator has also sought the court’s 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.