Jamaican officials turn to FBI to investigate $12.7 million fraud against Usain Bolt

Jamaica’s government has turned to the FBI for help as it investigates a massive fraud involving a private investment firm in which $12.7 million from famed sprinter Usain Bolt has disappeared. The scam lasted 13 years and also seduced older customers and authorities. The authorities do not yet know how much was stolen.

Lawyers for Bolt, who said the star athlete’s account dwindled to just $12,000, have given the investment firm until Friday to pay back the money before going to court.

The government also asked other international partners, whom it did not identify, for help in investigating one of the island’s biggest frauds, Finance Minister Nigel Clarke said on Monday.

“The anger and uneasiness we all feel was compounded by the length of time – 13 years – over which the fraud was allegedly committed and the fact that the[suspects]appeared to intentionally and heartlessly target the elderly, as well as our much loved and respected national icon… Usain Bolt,” Clarke said.

The investigation into Kingston-based Stocks and Securities Limited has only just begun, so it’s not immediately clear how much money was allegedly stolen or how many people were affected. Clarke said customers misrepresented their balances as part of the alleged fraud.

Government agencies including the National Health Fund, Jamaicas Agricultural Society and the National Housing Trust also invested millions of dollars in Stocks and Securities Limited, Clarke said.

Jamaica’s Financial Services Commission began investigating after the company alerted authorities this month that a manager appeared to have committed fraud.

Since then, the commission’s director has resigned, and Clarke has tasked the Bank of Jamaica with regulating the island’s financial system.

“There is no need to panic,” he said. “Despite this most unfortunate development, Jamaica’s financial sector remains strong.”

The company has not responded to email requests for comment from the Associated Press.

Clarke said authorities are working to uncover every detail of the alleged fraud.

“They will uncover exactly how funds were allegedly stolen, who benefited from such theft, and who organized and collaborated with it,” he said.

Clarke said the government will also seek forfeiture of any assets that may have been purchased with the funds allegedly stolen. He added that the government will soon adopt tougher penalties for economic crimes.

“If you’re robbing depositors or defrauding investors… and you’re endangering our financial system and our way of life, Jamaican society wants you locked away for a long time,” he said.