Published On: Tue, Feb 7th, 2023

Family tragedies inspired stockbroker to embezzle a small fortune

KINGSTON — Eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt is not the only one who has been scammed by an employee of the Jamaica-based company Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL). There are thirty other potential victims and the total losses for these SSL-investors add up to $1.2 billion, according to a January 18-report by Chris Hatler in Runner’s World.

Hatler wrote that the investigation into wrongdoings at SSL focused on a long-time employee. That employee has now been identified as Jean-Ann Panton who started working at SSL on April 1, 1997. She is currently client relationship manager.

Panton made a voluntary statement to Justice of the Peace Kamal Gilzene on January 7 about the way she manipulated client-accounts. Usain Bolt’s managers got suspicious when they noted that one of Bolt’s accounts, that should have held more than $10 million, just had a balance of $2,000. Panton confessed to Gilzine that she had taken approximately $864,000 and J$ 90.9 million (around $589,000) from client accounts.

To get her hands on the money, Panton forged emails that stated a client consented to selling SSL-shares. Once these shares were sold, one of four bearers who worked together with her would cash a check and then deliver the funds to Panton. The statement includes the names of the four bearers. Panton said that she also withdrew money from client-accounts without their consent.

The client relationship manager began stealing money when her family was hit by tragedies. First her father was diagnosed with cancer and sent overseas for treatment. Panton “borrowed’ money from her client accounts to cover her dad’s expenses. When her father passed away three years later, she borrowed some more to cover the costs of the funeral.

Then her brother was placed in a home after an attempt to kill his mother. Panton also borrowed money to cover her brother’s expenses, while she had no idea how she was ever going to ;pay it back.

The true value of the client-accounts cannot be derived from Panton’s statement but under her management $1,453,000 has evaporated. Panton told the Justice of the peace that she took around 20 percent from the client-accounts.

Given the scope of Panton’s embezzlement-activities it seems unlikely that she had anything to do with the fortune that disappeared from Usain Bolt’s account. According to the Jamaica Observer there were more employees involved in fraudulent activities. “Suspicious transactions have affected some of the accounts for over a decade,” Hatler wrote in his Runner’s World article.

As a result of the investigation Jamaica’s Financial Service Commission has barred SSL from undertaking sales or trading without its permission.