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Stocks and Securities Limited Fraud Investigation Progressing – Dr. Clarke



Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, says the Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL) fraud case investigation is progressing.

“The magnitude of the case has warranted a long and thorough investigation. A file was submitted to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions by the FID (Financial Investigations Division) for the consideration of criminal charges against individuals, and the DPP is doing her job; and I think that Office has publicly stated that they will make a ruling at some point,” Dr. Clarke said during his opening presentation in the 2024/25 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives recently.

Dr. Clarke said the engagement of American financial and advisory firm, Kroll, was critical to the investigations.

He noted that they undertook an independent forensic audit to discern the facts relating to the fraud perpetrated at Stocks and Securities Limited over the period 2010 to 2023.

“The company was selected because it did not have any connection in Jamaica and because of the complexity of the matter, the volume of transactions, the number of accounts held by clients and the number of bank accounts held by the SSL network of companies.

“The Kroll team, working with the support of government agencies, including the FID and FSC (Financial Services Commission), utilised technology, data analytics and forensic expertise to produce a comprehensive and independent report of its findings in November 2023. The Kroll Report has confirmed that the suspected fraudulent activity and mismanagement at SSL and its related parties were much broader than initially understood,” the Minister stated.

Dr. Clarke said the investigative authorities now have a much clearer picture of what took place and those involved, adding that they are committed to bringing the persons involved to justice.

“The FID will use all the powers at our disposal to attempt to recover as much of the dissipated funds,” the Finance Minister informed.

Providing details on the fees paid to Kroll, he said the UK provided the equivalent of US$50,000 as an initial retainer for the firm’s engagement, pointing out that the total cost was US$1.2 million which was paid from the Civil Recovery Fund held by the FID.

“In addition to the payment to Kroll, the FID transferred J$100 million from this Civil Recovery Fund to the Consolidated Fund as budgetary support, including support for national security. Kroll was essential to the point where we have something before the DPP,” he said.

By: CHRIS PATTERSON JIS, March 18, 2024

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Corporate Movements

Corporate Movements – April 2024



Consequent upon the reorganization of the Mayberry Group of Companies, this letter serves to advise of the Directors and Company Secretary of Mayberry Group Ltd. Note that Mayberry Group Ltd, a company incorporated under the laws of Saint Lucia, was listed on the Jamaica Stock Exchange on December 13, 2023.

The current Listing of Directors, appointed on September 6, 2023, are as follows:

1. Christopher Berry

2. Konrad Berry

3. Gary Peart

4. Richard Surage

5. Gladstone Lewars

6. Alok Jain

7. Erwin Angus

8. Walter Scott

The Corporate Secretary of Mayberry Group Ltd is FinSec Limited, appointed on November 15, 2022.

Justin Nam has resigned as Eppley’s General Manager to pursue other interests after nearly a decade at the company. His resignation is effective May 31, 2024, and he will coordinate with Raymond and Jeffrey to facilitate a smooth transition.

Raymond Donaldson to join Eppley as CEO

Raymond Donaldson will serve as the Chief Executive Officer of Eppley Limited (Eppley) effective May 3, 2024.

“Raymond has extensive leadership experience in financial markets across the Caribbean and a track record of scaling regional businesses. He has consistently demonstrated the ability to lead high performing teams and deliver results. We are delighted that Raymond will be joining Eppley.” said P.B. Scott, Chairman of Eppley.

Jeffrey Brown will also join Eppley on May 3, 2024, as Chief Investment Officer and will work closely with Denise Gallimore, VP of Real Estate and Samantha Summerbell, AVP Credit to grow and expand Eppley’s investment efforts.

Justin Nam has resigned as Eppley’s General Manager to pursue other interests after nearly a decade at the company. His resignation is effective May 31, 2024, and he will coordinate with Raymond and Jeffrey to facilitate a smooth transition.

“Justin has been an integral part of developing Eppley into the leading regional investment firm it is today contributing to the growth of our credit, mezzanine, infrastructure and real estate portfolios across the Caribbean. As an Eppley alumnus, we wish him well in his future endeavours.” said Nicholas Scott, Vice Chairman of Eppley. “I’ve worked closely for many years with both Raymond and Jeffrey. I know they share Eppley’s investment philosophy and I’m confident that they will continue our proud track record and build our business.”

“Eppley is a pioneer in private market investing in the Caribbean and one of the most respected investment firms in our region known for the caliber of its team, its financial performance and its integrity. I plan to lead Eppley guided by its founding principles for benefit of our team, our clients and our shareholders.” said Raymond Donaldson, Eppley’s incoming Chief Executive Officer.

Raymond Donaldson has a 20-year career in banking and finance in Jamaica, the Bahamas and the wider Caribbean. Most recently, Mr. Donaldson was Vice President Corporate and Commercial Banking at National Commercial Bank. Prior to that Mr. Donaldson served as Director of Corporate and Investment Banking in the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos at CIBC FirstCaribbean.

Jeffrey Brown has held executive roles in banking in Jamaica and Barbados, mostly recently as Head of Loan Structuring and Syndications at National Commercial Bank and previously at CIBC FirstCaribbean, Scotiabank and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

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Economists Hail Jamaica’s Sustained Debt Reduction as “Exceptional”



Photo: Derrick Scott

Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, Her Excellency Audrey Marks, shares a moment with (from left) Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor, Emil Vermer; Professor, Harvard Business School, Laura Alfaro; University of Colorado Professor, Barry Eichengreen; Jamaican economist at Stanford University, Professor Peter Blair Henry; and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Economist, Serkan Arslanalp. Occasion was the Brookings Institute spring papers on economic activity, featuring Jamaica, in Washington DC on March 28.

Jamaica is being hailed as “exceptional” for achieving sustained reduction in the public-debt-to-gross-domestic-product ratio (GDP) despite global financial crises, pandemics, and other emergencies.

In a paper titled ‘Sustained Debt Reduction: The Jamaica Exception’, authors Serkan Arslanalp, Barry Eichengreen and Professor Peter Blair Henry, noted that the sharp, sustained reductions in public debt are outstanding “because public-debt-to-GDP ratios have been trending up in advanced countries, emerging markets, and developing countries alike”.

The paper was presented at the Brookings Institute in Washington on Thursday (March 28).

“Governments have borrowed in response to financial crises, pandemics, wars and other emergencies, resulting in higher debt ratios. But only in rare instances have they succeeded in bringing those higher debt ratios back down once the emergency passed,” the paper pointed out.

Jamaican economist at Stanford University, Professor Peter Blair Henry, delivers a paper on ‘Sustained Debt Reduction the Jamaica Exception’ at the Brookings Institute in Washington DC on Thursday (March 28). At left is Co-presenter University of Colorado Professor, Barry Eichengreen.

In the case of Jamaica, the Government was able to cut its debt ratio in half from 144 per cent of GDP at the end of 2012 to 72 per cent in 2023.

The economists said the achievement was despite vulnerability to hurricanes, floods, droughts, earthquakes, storm surges and landslides, noting that Jamaica is ranked as the third most disaster-prone country in the world according to the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery.

“It did so despite a COVID-19 pandemic that disrupted tourism and mandated exceptional increases in public spending. Yet, despite this exogenously prompted deviation from plan, the IMF’s baseline projection, in its 2023 Article IV report, forecasts a further fall in debt-GDP to less than 60 per cent over the next four years,” the paper said further.

The paper highlighted the fact that the Fiscal Responsibility Framework, introduced in 2010, required the Minister of Finance to take measures to reduce, by the end of fiscal year 2016, the fiscal balance to nil, the debt-GDP ratio to 100 per cent, and public-sector wages as a share of GDP to nine per cent.

“The framework was augmented in 2014 to require the Minister, by the end of fiscal year 2018, to specify a multi-year fiscal trajectory to bring the debt-GDP ratio down to 60 per cent by 2026. The framework included an escape clause to be invoked in the event of large shocks.

“This prevented the rule from being so rigid, in a volatile macroeconomic environment, as to lack credibility. At the same time, it included clear criteria and independent oversight to prevent opportunistic use,” the paper said.

: Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, Her Excellency Audrey Marks, speaks with University of Colorado Professor, Barry Eichengreen (left), and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Professor, Emil Vermer, at the presentation of the Brookings Institute spring papers on economic activity, featuring Jamaica, in Washington DC on March 28.

The paper further pointed to the consensus building exercise entered into by the Government, which was key to the achievement.

“In 2013, a series of ongoing discussions in the National Partnership Council, a social dialogue collaboration involving the Government, parliamentary Opposition, and social partners, culminated in the Partnership for Jamaica Agreement on consensus policies in four areas, first of which was fiscal reform and consolidation,” the paper noted.

“The Partnership for Jamaica Agreement fostered a common belief that the burden of fiscal adjustment would be widely and fairly shared. It supported the creation and ensured broad national acceptance of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) to monitor and publicly report on fiscal policies and outcomes, and to provide independent verification that all parties kept to the terms of their agreement,” the research said.

“By creating a sense of fair burden sharing, Jamaica’s organised process of consultation thus sustained public support for the operation of the country’s fiscal rules, culminating in March 2023 with the establishment of a permanent, independent Fiscal Commission,” the economists declared.

“Jamaica managed its financial system well in this period. It adeptly managed the term structure of the debt, by way of a well-designed fiscal rule, and a partnership agreement creating confidence that the burden of adjustment would be widely and fairly shared.

The fiscal responsibility and the partnership agreement were key, as neither element would have worked to achieve sustained debt reduction in the absence of the other.

Both were needed the authors declared.

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Minister Bartlett Underscores Tourism Strategy and Action Plan’s Importance



Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, has emphasised the importance of Jamaica’s Tourism Strategy and Action Plan (TSAP) in generating the stakeholder capacity to respond to the industry’s new architecture.

The TSAP, being executed through a partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), is geared towards boosting socio-economic development and investment, building the local tourism industry’s resilience to climate change and reducing the sector’s contribution to climate change.

It also aims to diversify Jamaica’s inbound tourism and promote the industry’s knowledge-based and technology-enabled development.

Mr. Bartlett also highlighted the TSAP’s importance in making tourism more inclusive and more of an enabler of economic growth and development in Jamaica.

“So, the strategies have to look at not just the physical areas but it has to start with human capital. The most important element within our tourism realisation is with people. Jamaica’s wealth is not in minerals, as you know; but what we really have are our people, and our people are the wealth of this country,” the Minister said.

“And so, our strategy has to deal, very strongly, with building, training, building intellectual capacity, building innovative capacities, building creative capacities, [and] building a new sense of how people can convert knowledge into material goods and services which will have a value and a price,” Mr. Bartlett added.

He was speaking during the opening session of the Tourism Strategy and Action Plan Consultation Workshop for Kingston and St. Andrew, at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston on Thursday (April 4).

Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett (left), shares a light moment with General Manager, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Caribbean Country Department Group and Representative in Jamaica, Anton Edmunds, during the opening session of the Tourism Strategy and Action Plan Consultation Workshop for Kingston and St. Andrew, at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston on Thursday (April 4).

Meanwhile, Mr. Bartlett underscored the need to increase local production, which is critical in enabling Jamaica to retain a larger ratio of the tourist dollar.

“The consumption pattern of the visitor is three to five times that of the locals. Some people don’t understand why revenue to government has increased significantly without increasing/or new taxes being imposed. They don’t understand that what tourism has done is to increase the consumption pattern in Jamaica exponentially over the last two and a half years in particular, as we started from zero and grew to what is now 4.2 million visitors,” he stated.

“So, whose food are they eating? That is our job, to make sure that it is Jamaican food… our farmers must step up to the plate. The strategy in tourism must drive the linkages in the various areas, so as to stop the leakages from all the other areas,” Minister Bartlett added.

The workshop marks the final in a series of engagements aimed at highlighting relevant components of the Tourism Strategy and gathering as much input as possible from key stakeholders.

Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett (left), makes a point to Operations Lead Specialist, Tourism, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Olga Gomez-Garcia, during the opening session of the Tourism Strategy and Action Plan Consultation Workshop for Kingston and St. Andrew held at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston on Thursday (April 4). Looking on is General Manager, IDB Caribbean Country Department Group and Representative in Jamaica, Anton Edmunds.


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Statement by Bank of Jamaica Concerning Previous Regulatory Actions Involving Alliance Financial Services Limited



Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) takes note of the recent Court Decision in the matter involving Alliance Investment Management Limited (AIML), which is not a licensee of the Bank, and public commentary related to the actions taken by the Bank in December 2021 to suspend the cambio and remittance operating licences issued to then AIML-affiliated company Alliance Financial Services Limited (AFSL) effective 3 December 2021. The Bank’s actions also included the revocation of the authorisation granted to AFSL to operate in the Bank of Jamaica Fintech Regulatory Sandbox as a payment service provider effective 3 December 2021.

As stated by the Bank at the time, the regulatory actions became necessary after the Financial Investigations Division (FID) on 2 December 2021 charged AFSL’s principals and two AFSL-affiliated companies at the time (AIML and Alliance Finance Limited (AFL)) with several offences under the Bank of Jamaica Act and the Banking Services Act. Bank of Jamaica is aware that investigations by the FID into the Alliance Group began around 2018. However, it was only after formal charges were laid against the entities and their principals by the FID following the requisite ruling by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, that BOJ took the regulatory action of the suspension of licences to safeguard the financial system. The formal charging of the entities and their principals raised serious “fit and proper” considerations for their continued operation of financial services under the Bank of Jamaica Act and the Banking Services Act.

Alliance Finance Limited subsequently pleaded guilty in the St. Andrew Parish Court to several breaches of the Bank of Jamaica Act and the Banking Services Act and was fined. These breaches for which AFL was convicted related to “Carrying on the Business of Lending in Foreign Currency in breach of the Bank of Jamaica Act” and “Accepting Deposits Without the Requisite Licence in breach of the Banking Services Act.” The breaches involved engaging in economic activities which are regulated and which require an extensive application process, extensive due diligence checks and continuous monitoring throughout the life of the licence in the case of the Banking Services Act. The breaches also involved engaging in the business of lending in foreign currency without the requisite authorisation that allows for review, due diligence and monitoring mechanisms being applied to ensure continued order in the foreign Exchange market. These represent breaches of the substantive framework of financial services regulated by Bank of Jamaica. One consequence of such breaches is being rendered unfit to own and operate financial services in the financial system.

Bank of Jamaica is also aware of legal action initiated in the Supreme Court by the FID related to criminal forfeiture regarding the offences for which AFL was convicted in relation to the Bank of Jamaica Act and the Banking Services Act.

Bank of Jamaica maintains that its actions taken in December 2021 to suspend the cambio and remittance operating licence of AFSL and to revoke the authorisation granted to AFSL to operate in the BOJ Fintech Regulatory Sandbox as a payment service provider, were necessary as the allegations at the time threatened the good order in the foreign exchange market and payment systems as well as the reputation and good standing of the Jamaican financial system internationally. It is important to note that BOJ’s regulatory actions were the subject of judicial review, and finding in the Bank’s favour, the Court of Appeal noted in its 2022 judgment in the matter of Alliance Financial Services Limited v Bank of Jamaica that, “the risk to the financial sector outweighed the economic loss and inconvenience AFSL may suffer as a result of the continuation of the suspension.”

Bank of Jamaica remains committed to fulfilling its mandate to ensure the stability of the Jamaican financial system and the effective and impartial supervision of its licensees.

It is also to be noted that Alliance’s divestment of business was a strategy and activity pursued by the principals of Alliance as their own business decision.

It is also to be noted that Alliance’s divestment of business was a strategy and activity pursued by the principals of Alliance as their own business decision. Bank of Jamaica had no part in that decision or transaction. On 1 April 2022, BOJ publicly advised that AFSL, under a new ownership structure, applied for a cambio and remittance licence, and having satisfied the Bank’s due diligence requirements, was licenced to offer cambio and remittance services at approved locations effective 23 March 2022.

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Prime Minister Andrew Holness Urges Increased Public-Sector Productivity



As the Government moves to implement the next phase of the public-sector compensation review, Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, has reiterated the call for increased productivity in the civil service.

“We are at the point where we have to get our public sector to be more efficient. But the public sector is not made up of block and steel. The public sector is made up of people; we have to get our people [to be] more efficient. Put it another way, we have to get our workers more efficient,” Mr. Holness said.

He was speaking during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for The Vineyards at Deanery apartment complex on Deanery Road in Vineyard Town, Kingston, on Wednesday (March 27).

The Prime Minister noted that productivity is a complex issue, partly driven by motivation fuelled by compensation.

“But a part of productivity is management, and the culture of managing our resources for efficient delivery is not a culture that is deeply entrenched in our public service. The Government has put in place the compensation review programme, which, so far, the understanding of it is that it is about increasing pay levels. That is so, and I think we have largely accomplished that, except for anomalies that need to be worked through,” he stated.

“The next phase of the compensation review is the performance and accountability systems. If we are to maintain these layers of accountability which you, the public, have asked for, and increase efficiency, which you, the public, are also asking for, then the only way to get both is by performance management. We have to set goals and we have to keep to those goals. We have to set systems of rewarding people who use initiative and who deliver,” the Prime Minister added.

Mr. Holness argued that this is not a concept that is necessarily rooted in the public service.

“We don’t take risks and we are not rewarded for risk or performance. If this project gets built on time, I get the same pay as if it did not get built on time. So, my job, uncomfortable as it is and as unfavourable as it sounds, is that if Jamaica is going to move forward to achieve the vision that all of us want and all of us want to participate in it, then the next phase of this compensation review has to be executed. And it is for all of us here who work in the public sector – we have to recognise our important role in embracing performance management. So, we are going to move towards that, and we are going to ensure that Jamaica becomes the productive country that we know it can be,” he emphasised.

The Prime Minister further noted that the only way to protect against inflation is to increase output and increase productivity.

“So, it is in the interest of workers to increase productivity,” he underscored.

Meanwhile, Mr. Holness welcomed the new housing development, and congratulated the developers for getting the project done.

The Vineyards at Deanery comprises studio and two-bedroom apartments, with a sixth-floor penthouse, which are in both blocks.

It offers convenient commute to key destinations, including hospitals, educational institutions, sports facilities, and churches.

Other features include solid countertops, porcelain tiles, pool house, glass-walled elevator, water tank, water heater, landscaped grounds and lobby, Juliet balcony, and 24-hour security.

General Manager, Jamaica Mortgage Bank (JMB), Courtney Wynter,

For his part, General Manager, Jamaica Mortgage Bank (JMB), Courtney Wynter, said the entity has significantly contributed to the nation’s housing stock and the growth of the economy.

He noted that evidence of this is in the financing of approximately 60 per cent of Portmore and, more recently, funding of the Long Mountain housing development, the University of the West Indies dormitories, and countless other developments across the length and breadth of Jamaica, including The Vineyards at Deanery.

“In 2020, the world experienced the worst pandemic in 100 years. Most global businesses were severely impacted as governments of the day tried to implement measures to keep their populations safe. Jamaica was not immune to the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, unlike most developing and developed states, Jamaica had the foresight to balance the need for safety with the necessity for continued economic activities,” Mr. Wynter said.

“As a result, one of the sectors that held up our economy during this challenging period, was the construction sector. The Vineyards [at Deanery]… is clear evidence that the decision to keep the construction sector open during the pandemic was the correct decision,” he added.

Mr. Wynter noted that seven of the now eleven projects currently managed by the JMB started during the height of the pandemic.

He further stated that these apartments are the result of a very innovative public-private partnership.

“The Jamaica Mortgage Bank’s legacy over the past 50 years is also very evident, through the number of Jamaicans that have achieved homeownership through its business, resilience and innovation. As the Bank pivots for the next 50 years, to being a private listed company, it is our commitment to continue building on that legacy of a great Jamaican financial institution, providing safe and affordable housing and shelter for Jamaicans, while contributing to the wealth creation for the ordinary man,” Mr. Wynter said.

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