‘Bolt’s name never came up’
Former CEOs say they were unaware track star was a client of SSL
The mystery surrounding Usain Bolt’s missing millions is appearing to deepen as two successive CEOs of the beleaguered Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL) had no knowledge that the retired athletics powerhouse was their client. Doubt is beginning...
The mystery surrounding Usain Bolt's missing millions is appearing to deepen as two successive CEOs of the beleaguered Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL) said they had no knowledge that the retired athletics powerhouse was their client.
Doubt is beginning to surface about whether the more than US$12 million Bolt purportedly held at SSL can be properly accounted for.
Former CEO at SSL, Zachary Harding, said in his nearly three years at SSL, from September 2019 to June 2022, he did not know that the sprint legend was a client, let alone that he had one of the biggest portfolios with the investment company over the past decade.
“During my time at SSL, Usain Bolt's name never came up once in a management meeting as a client of SSL. I had no knowledge whatsoever of any client relationship with Usain Bolt or any entity that he may have been a part of,” Harding said in an interview with The Sunday Gleaner yesterday.
Harding reiterated “it just never came up”, adding that, with a client of Bolt's magnitude, it certainly would have been at the top of the list.
He reportedly only learnt of the sprint legend's association with the company when the SSL fraud scandal broke just over a week ago.
Equally oblivious to Bolt being an SSL client was the CEO who preceded Harding, Lamar Harris.
Harris was CEO of SSL between March 2018 and February 2019. But prior to that she held other senior posts with the group from June 2012 when she was Manager, Investment Banking. Thereafter she rose to Vice President, Client Services in 2014 and General Manager/Company Secretary from 2015.
Asked by The Sunday Gleaner if she had any recollection of Bolt or any company he was attached to being mentioned as a client of SSL, Harris said she did not recall.
“Like others,” she added, “I am watching this situation unfold. I, too, believe that the truth will come out as it should.”
Some 40 clients were reportedly defrauded of approximately J$3 billion, going back almost 10 years.
The former SSL wealth advisor at the centre of the investigation gave a sworn statement dated January 7, which listed clients from whose accounts she admitted to “borrowing” varying sums without the account holders' consent. Sports icon Usain Bolt's name was not on that list.
Harding said he is hoping “for full compensation for all persons who have suffered losses, including Usain Bolt. I also expect the acceptance of accountability and culpability by the perpetrators; implementation of additional measures to help safeguard against a repeat of such breaches; and the restoration of investors' and the general public's confidence in Jamaica's financial services sector”.
Attorneys for Bolt have given SSL 10 days, up to Friday, January 27, to return the over US$12 million which was reportedly defrauded. They have warned of legal action in the event that the money is not returned.
NO KNOWLEDGE OF MISAPPROPRIATION
At the same time, Harding is distancing himself and his business, Delta Capital Partners, from the SSL saga.
He said his private equity firm was not a part of SSL and, while there was an overlap between his tenure at SSL and the formation of Delta with SSL founder Hugh Croskery buying a stake in the company, there is no longer any connection.
“Hugh never played any active role in the formation of or growth of Delta. He was not an officer of Delta. He was not an employee of Delta,” Harding stressed.
Harding explained that in July 2020, Croskery had taken a stake in Delta at the time of its formation, in return for Harding's continued tenure at SSL. He said Croskery's daughter, Sarah, had a seat on Delta's board to represent her father's interest.
He said there was a parting of ways when he left SSL in June 2022. Sarah resigned from her position as a director of Delta Capital Partners and Harding resigned from all boards associated with SSL.
“An agreement was reached for the repurchase of shares held by Hugh Croskery and consequently, he is no longer a shareholder in Delta,” Harding told The Sunday Gleaner.
Harding said it was never, at any time, revealed nor brought to his attention that clients' investment funds were being misappropriated while he was CEO of SSL.