It is the question on the lips of every Jamaican and none more so than the country,s most famous athlete, eight-time Olympic gold medal sprinter Usain Bolt. “Where s the money gone?”
The investigation into a multi-million dollar fraud at the Kingston-based investment firm Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL), which has reportedly seen Bolt s $12 million account left almost empty, is dominating discussion in the Caribbean nation. So much so that one of the country s top dance hall artists, Gage, quickly released a song “SSL,” whose chorus repeatedly asks the above question in Jamaican patois.
True to the traditions of Jamaica s vibrant and straight-talking music scene, Gage s lyrics highlight the division between Kingston s affluent and influential “uptown” residents and the young people hustling in the city s poorer areas.
The song points out government efforts to clamp down on telephone and lottery scams from what he calls “ghetto youth,” but notes those young people never engaged in such large-scale fraud as what is suspected in the SSL investigation.
Finance Minister Nigel Clarke appeared to acknowledge that sentiment when he said he wanted to see tough sanctions on the fraudsters.
“The discrepancy between sanctions for white-collar crime and other forms of crime must be erased. If you rob depositors, or you defraud investors and you put our financial system and our way of life at risk, the Jamaican society wants you put away for a long time — a long, long, time,” he told AFP.
Bolt is one of around 40 people whose accounts may have been impacted by the fraud. While his status as a national hero means his situation has dominated the news, there is concern that elderly investors may also have been left penniless.
Clarke said he will ask the FBI and other foreign agencies to help with the investigations after replacing members of the Financial Services Commission (FSC) board.—INP