Europe 1 with AFP 6:34 p.m., January 30, 2023

Jamaican authorities are investigating a company holding funds invested by sprinting legend Usain Bolt, which media reports said may have lost millions of dollars in a massive fraud.

This company's $12 million account would be emptied, almost entirely.

"Where did the money go?": the question burns the lips of all Jamaicans and the most famous of them, Usain Bolt, legend of the world sprint, eight-time Olympic gold medalist, victim of a financial fraud which would have robbed about forty people in total.

For the past two weeks, local authorities have been investigating an investment company, Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL) based in Kingston, supposed to hold funds placed by Bolt, whose $ 12 million account is obviously emptied, almost In totality.

The case moved the entire Caribbean island.

So much so that dancehall artist Gage turned it into a song called "SSL", with that plaintive chorus "Weh di money de?"

("where's the money?" in Jamaican patois).

True to themes frequently addressed by the Jamaican music scene, Gage's lyrics highlight the class struggle, its injustices, the division between the well-to-do and influential inhabitants of Kingston's upscale neighborhoods and the struggling young people in the poor neighborhoods.

The song also describes the government's efforts to put an end to phone scams and other fraudulent lotteries, but it also notes that it has never committed to fighting a scam on such a large scale.

Finance Minister Nigel Clarke seemed to agree, telling AFP he wanted tough sanctions.

No suspects charged

“The gap between penalties for white collar crime and other forms of crime must be erased. If you steal from those who entrust their money or defraud investors and you endanger our financial system, our way of life, Jamaican society wants you to be put in the shade for a long, long time," he said.

Usain Bolt is one of about 40 victims of this fraud, including elderly people who are now penniless.

Nigel Clarke said he would ask the FBI and other foreign agencies to help with the investigations, after replacing members of the Financial Services Commission (FSC) board.

This organization took over the temporary management of SSL and appointed a special auditor.

Jamaican police have raided the home of a former employee of that company and seized documents, but no suspects have yet been charged.



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In the turmoil, players in the world of finance hope that confidence in the country's banking institutions will not be undermined.

"What we saw initially was an emotional reaction, quite understandable given that this is people's money and it has shaken confidence in financial systems. But the government acted quickly to ensure it was restored," said Dennis Chung, a business leader who is also the general secretary of the Jamaica Football Association.

Resolutely confident, Dennis Chung believes that there will be “no long-term consequences. People will continue to invest in stocks, bonds and titles”.

"Disgusted people"

For Abka Fitz-Henley, media personality in Jamaica, what is not in any doubt, however, is the general disgust inspired by Bolt's setbacks.

“The majority of the population is disgusted by this criminal act, which constitutes an injustice towards a man, perceived as extremely lovable, who is, moreover, the most popular living Jamaican in the world. that he will get his money back."

Coming from a modest background, born in the parish of Trelawny in northwestern Jamaica, Bolt became a global superstar, having shattered the 100m and 200m world records and dominating the Olympic Games in Beijing, London and Rio.

Two-time Grammy-nominated reggae singer Etana suggests the former athlete may have been penalized for his lack of elite connections.

"This case is embarrassing for the country. New rich, he should have joined the powerful, forged relationships, and then no one would have touched his money."

"Personally, I would only invest in Jamaica if I could do it in partnership with someone from the aristocracy and upper class, because no one dares touch their money," she added.

Bolt has said little about the case, but he assured that it will not lead him to abandon his homeland: "No matter what is happening at the moment, Jamaica is my country, I love it. and that will never change. I will always do everything in my power to make it grow."