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The Audacity: Investment Firm Says Employee Who Admitted to Stealing Usain Bolt’s Money ‘Amazingly’ Asked the Sprinter’s Team for Help to Repay Other Swindled Clients

A former employee of a Jamaican investment firm who reportedly confessed to swiping millions of dollars from Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt’s account asked Bolt for help repaying funds from other clients she swindled, according to company officials.

Jean-Ann Panton, the woman behind the financial scandal that has drawn international attention to a Jamaican securities firm, reportedly told her employer last month that she took money from clients’ accounts to cover medical bills for her father and other family emergencies. She did not initially admit to dipping into the legendary athlete’s account.

However, according to a lengthy statement released by Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL), three days after Panton’s Jan. 7 confession, a representative for Bolt came to the office and said “an employee serving as client relationship manager” “had turned up at their offices to confess that she had falsified statements provided to them, had stolen money from them and other SSL clients, and was requesting help” from Bolt’s management team “to repay the clients whose funds she had stolen.”

Jamaican Olympic track star Usain Bolt loss nearly $12 million of retirement funds
Stocks and Securities Limited client relationship manager Jean-Ann Panton, left, and Jamaican Olympic track star Usain Bolt, right (Facebook/Stocks & Securities Ltd, Instagram/Usain Bolt)

Although the statement did not name Panton, Nationwide News reportedly obtained a copy of the sworn affidavit from the former employee admitting to stealing from the accounts. SSL said they did not know Bolt was involved until after the person from his management team came forward.

“It is believed that the reasons that she did not initially confess to defrauding this particular client are (1) she was aware of the tremendous spotlight which the Bolt name would bring to bear on her activities, and (2) amazingly, she, for whatever reason, and despite having admitted to the Bolt management team that Dr, the Hon Usain Bolt was among her victims, apparently still believed that she could borrow the money from the Bolt management group to repay the other SSL clients,” the statement says.

SSL representatives said the client services manager bypassed protocols by forging client documents, including withdrawal requests. The firm sent a letter to the Financial Services Commission, the Jamaican agency leading the investigation into the fraud scheme, advising them of the discovery.

“This serves to advise the Financial Services Commission that Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL) is currently investigating allegations of alleged fraud committed by an employee serving in the role of Client Relationship Manager,” the letter stated.

“The exposure is unknown, and SSL is currently undertaking investigations with the support of our attorneys, Guardsman Elite, and external auditors. The employee was interviewed by our attorneys on January 6 and 7, 2023 in the presence of her attorney and has admitted to wrongdoing. Other interviews are scheduled for the week of January 9, 2023, with known associates.”

SSL said it released the statement to “set the record straight in respect of some damaging and widely repeated inaccuracies” about the scheme. Company representatives said that they were alerted of possible fraud in December when a client presented a statement generated by Panton that did not match his portfolio statement.

Accounts holders have access to an online system where they can track their portfolio performance, SSL said, but many of the swindled clients did not use that system, instead relying on statements generated by Panton. This practice made the affected clients vulnerable to fraud, SSL says. 

“SSL immediately engaged a team to commence investigations into the employee’s activities,” the statement says.

Attorneys for the retired sprinter sent a letter to SSL on Jan. 17 demanding that the $12.7 million that apparently had been in Bolt’s account when he had last checked on Oct. 31 be returned by Friday, Jan. 27. While Bolt had not made any withdrawals, the balance had reportedly dropped to $12,000.

However, when the firm missed the deadline, Bolt’s attorney Linton Gordon turned his attention to FSC for answers, the Jamaican Observer reports.

The attorney said he has been talking with the FSC to figure out a resolution to the financial debacle, but the details of those conversations would be inappropriate to share with the public at this point in the investigation.

“Part of the communication we are having is that we won’t be having the discussion in the media but we are in communication,” the lawyer said.

SSL said that it has been cooperating with the FSC and others involved in the investigations. Management has faced “attacks and assertions which have been made on them from various quarters, while the former employee who confessed remains at home.”

“This is extremely demoralizing for those who continue to work hard to try to ensure justice is done,” the statement says.

On Sunday, Jan. 29, Finance Minister Nigel Clarke, who works separately from the FSC, tweeted two pages from a 2019 report completed by the FSC noting SSL has been a “problem institution” and $1.1 billion of the clients’ money had not been invested.

Clarke said his office received the report on April 15, 2020. However, the official said the report was not brought to his attention until recently.

According to The Gleaner, FSC is tasked with monitoring Jamaica’s investment firms and must audit them at least once per year and submit a report to the finance minister within 90 days.

 “It is noted that the violations and concerns noted for this targeted examination are similar to those noted in the examination conducted on SSL in 2016,” the report says. “This would suggest that inadequate management and board oversight are being placed on the areas found to be in violations and concerns.”

Nationwide News reported that it obtained a 2013 letter to then-SSL president and CEO Mark Croskery from the FSC, one that ordered the company to stop acquiring assets that would affect its balance sheet without the commission’s approval in light of previous evaluations dating back to 2010. The FSC has reportedly threatened to revoke the company’s license multiple times over the last five years.

Croskery said in a previous interview that Panton was the only one who handled Bolt’s SSL account.

SSL said Panton was “well respected in the industry and was trusted completely by her clients.” However, the fraud scheme has created “tremendous adverse consequences” for “affected clients” and “hard-working staff at SSL.”

“The fire has been fueled by sensational speculation, which tends to affect adversely the essential tracing of ill-gotten assets and indeed, the overall investigation, activities that the Board and Management were and are prepared to support,” SSL said.

It is unclear when the investigation into the scheme that has impacted about 40 customers will be completed.

Bolt has since fired his business manager reportedly because of the mishandling of his funds at the firm. The gold medalist said he is in the same boat as the public, who has also been taken advantage of in the scandal.

“You know, it’s bad from everybody’s standpoint. It doesn’t look good,” Bolt said. “I’ve read a few comments and see a lot of people everybody’s confused, you understand, so for me, I am as confused as the public but we’ll see what happens,” Bolt said.

Atlanta Black Star Assistant News Editor Nyamekye Daniel contributed to the writing and reporting of this story.

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