by Andre Lowe (Jamaica Observer) Despite expressing disappointment with the systemic failures that resulted in him suffering significant losses in the ongoing fraud case at investment firm Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL), iconic sprinter Usain Bolt has declared his love for and commitment to Jamaica, while alleviating concerns around his financial situation.
In his first appearance in public since it was revealed that more than US$12 million had disappeared from his account at SSL, Bolt, a global phenom and one of the country’s most recognisable figures, revealed that he has been struggling emotionally but remains dedicated to doing what he can to have a positive influence on the country.
“I’ve been going through a few tough weeks,” Bolt said at the sponsors’ luncheon for the Gibson McCook Relays at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Friday.
“No matter what’s going on right now, Jamaica is my home and it will never change, and I will always love my country and will always do everything in my power to uplift the country,” said Bolt.
The sprinter had invested close to US$8 million in SSL in 2012 through a limited liability company with the account reflecting US$12,758,181.74 as of October 31, 2022.
“No, I am not broke,” Bolt declared after the formalities in response to a question from journalists about the impact of the fraud on his personal standing.
“It [the fraud case] has definitely put a damper on me, and it was for my future. Everybody knows that I have three kids, I am still looking after my parents, and I still want to live very well,” he said.
It was revealed that the sprinter was one of more than 40 clients affected by a major fraud at the financial institution, which saw his account depleted to a balance of US$12,047.65. It is estimated that a total exceeding $3 billion has been swindled from customers’ accounts at SSL.
“I don’t want to say too much, but as we know from everybody’s standpoint, it doesn’t look goodâ€¦ I’m as confused as the public, but we’ll see what happens,” said Bolt. “It’s always going to be a sad situation for anybody to lose what they have worked hard for. That is a sad situation so I am definitely disappointed.”
Meanwhile, Bolt’s attorneys had given SSL until yesterday to pay over the full US$12.7 million, which was reflected in their client’s account prior to the revelation of the fraud, and echoing his lawyers’ tone following the company’s failure to meet the deadline, the Olympian is warning that there is more action to come.
“Well, it’s 10 days, just give it time and you will see what will happen,” he said.
Bolt also countered claims by his former business manager, Norman Peart, who had told local media that his recent separation from the former sprinter’s management team was done amicably.
“It was simple. It wasn’t. He was fired. That’s pretty much all I have to say. My lawyers said that I shouldn’t say a lot about that but it was not amicable; he was fired from his job,” Bolt said.
The 36-year-old, who shot to fame by winning eight Olympic titles and 11 World Championships gold medals while breaking records in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m, retired in 2017 but remains one of the most marketable and highest-paid athletes in the world.
Over his career, he has commanded historic figures among track and field’s elite with major endorsement deals from companies such as Puma, Gatorade, Hublot, Virgin Media, among others, adding to his value.