Wed | Oct 4, 2023

Order freezing Panton’s assets extended

Published:Thursday | March 16, 2023 | 1:12 AMTanesha Mundle/Staff Reporter

The Commercial Court on Wednesday extended an order freezing all of the assets of the former Stocks & Securities Limited (SSL) Client Relationship Manager Jean-Ann Panton, who is charged in a multibillion-dollar fraud relating to accounts held by clients, including Olympian Usain Bolt.

The court has also ordered Panton to appear in court next Tuesday by videoconferencing to respond to the order.

The freezing order was initially granted on February 15 in Panton’s absence after an application by Bolt’s lawyers.

Bolt’s holding company, Welljen Limited, is among the accounts of dozens of clients who were allegedly fleeced by some $3 billion.

Over US$6.1 million was reportedly invested by Welljen Limited over a period of 10 years, but when the fraud was uncovered, a balance of US$12,000 was reportedly left in the account.

Following the order, the judge had set Wednesday for both parties to be present for an inter-partes hearing and for the court to determine whether an extension was needed.

However, according to attorney-at-law Obiko Gordon, who, along with his father Linton, is representing Bolt, when the matter came up, Panton was absent, and as a result, an extension was granted.

He said that the judge also made the order for Panton to appear on March 21. An order is to be served on the commissioner of corrections for the necessary arrangements to be made for the virtual hearing.

Panton, who was charged with breaches of the Larceny Act, forgery, uttering forged documents, falsification of accounts, engaging in a criminal transaction, and breaches of the Cybercrimes Act, was denied bail last month and is currently being housed at the South Camp Adult Correctional Centre.

Last month, Obiko Gordon told The Gleaner that the order provides for Panton’s assets up to the amount of US$6 million-plus to be frozen.

He also shared then that a production order had also been made for her to provide a statement of all her assets, real estate holdings, shares, stocks, etc.

Last month, the Supreme Court extended an order blocking the directors of fraud-hit SSL from winding up the company or liquidating its assets. The order was extended to give the Government more time to respond to affidavits filed by defendants in the matter.

The case was brought by the FSC against SSL, its trustee Claydion Campbell, SSL founder Hugh Croskery, and former company directors Laurence Adamson and Peter Knibb.

SSL, however, denied that it had sought to wind up the company when it appointed Campbell as trustee.

“It was the intention of the directors that their powers and authority be vested in the trustee and that the affairs of SSL would be under his control,” the company said in a statement issued by its attorneys.

The company said that Campbell, of Phoenix Restructuring, Advisory and Insolvency Services Enterprise, and his team intended to conduct an independent business review and other investigations to determine its financial state as at January 16.

The FSC, which regulates brokerages and investment houses, took temporary charge of SSL’s management and operations on January 17, days after the alleged $3-billion fraud had been publicised.

In the meantime, Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke announced that the probe into the massive fraud at investment would also seek to ascertain whether the stolen money was used to buy assets, which can be recovered by the State.