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Financial analyst suggests SSL not free of fault in fraud matter

By Warren Bertram 

Financial Analyst Ralston Hyman is labelling as "irrational" the attempt by the board and management of SSL to pinpoint one former employee as being solely responsible for the fraud uncovered at the investment firm.

The management of Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL) said it only learned of the fraud involving former athlete Usain Bolt when a member of his management team visited its office on January 11 to state that the former SSL employee had been to the offices of WellJen to confess and request assistance in paying back other clients that she had defrauded.

They further stated that during a disciplinary proceeding with the former Client Relationship Manager, the fraudulent activity involving WellJen was not mentioned nor was it listed among the 39 other clients she said were defrauded in the elaborate scheme.

But Mr. Hyman has suggested that there was a complete breakdown in oversight and proper checks and balances by senior management at the company which created the right environment for fraud. 

"When I call my broker to execute a transaction, somebody else from the brokerage house calls me to ask did I give any instructions to execute that transaction and then they ask you a whole lot of security questions," Mr. Hyman recounted, as he questioned how the SSL employee could have single-handedly undertaken such transactions for her clients, to the extent she could have pre-signed encashment letters. 

Others involved? 

Attorney Hugh Wildman said the information provided to the police by the former SSL employee, Jean-Ann Panton, will indicate whether others have been identified as being involved in the fraud scheme. 

Ms. Panton supposedly wrote a confession statement, detailing her fraud of 39 clients. The document has been widely circulated on social media. 

Since then, many have questioned why the former SSL employee has not been arrested. 

According to Mr. Wildman, the current circumstance raises questions of whether the authorities could be pursuing others in relation to what she may have mentioned in her statement or whether they intend to use Ms Panton  as a key person to pursue "bigger players" in the fraud. 

"Did Ms. Panton [give] a caution statement to the police or she was just cooperating but gave a witness statement? Because if, for example, she gave a caution statement and she named other players in the fraud, then we know that whatever she says about other people cannot be used in court," he explained. 

Money passed through US?

Development economist and financial commentator Dr. Chris Stokes said the involvement of the US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) into the multi-billion dollar fraud at SSL could mean some of the missing funds passed through the American banking system.

Finance Minister Dr. Nigel Clarke had disclosed on Wednesday that the FBI is intensifying its involvement in the investigations into the massive fraud at the investment firm.

Dr. Stokes believes the involvement of the US agency is not to help in the prosecution of a local matter but to determine interconnections on the money trail. 

He, Mr. Wildman and Mr. Hyman were speaking on Radio Jamaica's Beyond The Headlines on Wednesday.