Jamaican officials turn to FBI to help investigate .7 million fraud targeting Usain Bolt |  Usain Bolt

Jamaican officials turn to FBI to help investigate $12.7 million fraud targeting Usain Bolt | Usain Bolt

The government of Jamaica has enlisted the help of the FBI to investigate a massive fraud case involving a private investment firm that left $12.7 million of famed sprinter Usain Bolt missing. The fraud lasted 13 years and also ensnared older customers and government agencies. Authorities do not yet know how much was stolen.

Lawyers for Bolt, who said the star athlete’s bill has shrunk to just $12,000, have given the investment firm until Friday to return the money before going to court.

The government also asked other international partners it could not identify to help investigate one of the island’s biggest fraud cases, Finance Minister Nigel Clarke said on Monday.

“The anger and uneasiness we all feel has been compounded by the length of time – 13 years – over which the fraud was allegedly committed, and the fact that the (suspects) appeared to have deliberately and heartlessly targeted older individuals, as well as our many loved and respected national icon… Usain Bolt,” Clarke said.

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

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

The Jamaican Financial Services Commission launched an investigation after the company alerted authorities this month that a manager had apparently 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 very unfortunate development, Jamaica’s financial sector remains strong.”

The company did not return email requests from the Associated Press seeking comment.

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

“They will dig into exactly how funds were allegedly stolen, who benefited and who organized and contributed to this,” he said.

Clarke said the government will also seek forfeiture of any assets that may have been purchased with the allegedly stolen funds. He added that the government will soon approve tougher penalties for white-collar crime.

“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.

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