A former employee of a financial institution where Olympic champion Usain Bolt was a member was arrested for stealing from the track star’s retirement account, but her attorneys argued she is too sick to be held in jail.
The investment firm Stocks and Securities Limites was accused last month of draining more than $12 million from Bolt’s account in his business’ name.
Bolt’s retirement account was left with only $12,000 after being drained of approximately $12,758,000 by the investment firm. The Jamaica Observer reported that SSL Client relationship manager Jean-Ann Panton was arrested on Feb. 17 and charged with forgery, larceny as a servant, uttering forged documents, and breaching the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Panton allegedly admitted to stealing $3 million from clients’ accounts during meetings with the Financial Investigations Division detectives and the Jamaica Constable Force’s Fraud Squad between Feb. 14 and 16. Reports show Panton confessed to stealing from Bolt’s account since it was opened in 2012.
Panton has been accused of defrauding 39 clients out of millions of US dollars. She has been charged in relation to three clients so far, including Bolt and his manager. The current charges amount to $6.3 million in fraud so far. Four more clients have since come forward to report Panton for theft.
Her attorney Tamika Harris applied for bail at the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston on Panton’s behalf citing medical grounds. Panton showed up to court in a wheelchair, and Harris claimed her client was born with a dislocated hip and has had “a series of 25 surgeries” since the age of 2.
“She requires wheelchair assistance and the use of a walker as part of her rehabilitation,” said Harris. “And she has also had side effects from the antibiotics prescribed which makes balancing challenging.”
Justice Shelly Williams was seemingly unimpressed with Panton’s medical claim and questioned why medical documents only stated Panton’s having diabetes and the date of her last surgery, but nothing claiming she could not walk.
“I am not saying that you can’t put forward all of this,” said Williams. “But if you are going to do that you need a medical report that supports your position.”
Harris also argued when police visited her client’s home, they would have seen her inability to walk, and she also has to inject herself with insulin that requires refrigeration.
“And it can hardly be said that the environment in a cell would be sterile,” Harris said also questioning if authorities would be able to preserve the insulin. “All those delicate care, it is very unlikely that a police station will be able to do so,” the lawyer argued.
Jamaicans on Instagram wanted to know when Panton began using a wheelchair.
“On a serious note,” said one. “When did she stop walking?”
“How old is this lady? Seems like she’s using the w/c as a prop to get off smh,” noted another. “Heard she borrowed Harvey Weinstein’s wheelchair,” added one.
Panton also told her employer in January that she “borrowed” money from the accounts to pay for her father’s medical expenses and funeral after he died from cancer. She later sniped money to cover care for her brother in a home after he threatened to kill her mother.
In addition to the charges and her arrest, Panton’s assets have been frozen, according to one of Bolt’s attorneys, Obika Gordon.
“We can confirm that we obtained a freezing injunction against Ms. Panton,” said Gordon. “It is an order which provides that her assets up to the amount of six-plus US million dollars have been frozen. There is also a production order for her to provide a statement of all her assets, real estate holdings, shares, stocks, etc.”
The Supreme Court also extended an order to block SSL from liquidating any assets until Feb. 28. Bolt’s attorneys filed two legal claims with the court on behalf of his company, Welljen Limited, to recover his funds.
Prior to Panton’s arrest, Bolt’s longtime business manager, Norman Peart, was fired by the Jamaican Olympic gold medalist. On Jan. 27, Bolt told the outlet that he had fired Peart. “He was fired, that’s pretty much all I have to say,” said Bolt. “It wasn’t amicable … he was fired.”
The Financial Investigations Division released a statement on Feb. 17 noting that Peart was never a suspect in the theft. Peart’s signature was apparently forged on documents authorizing the funds to be moved.
“Of note, contrary to reports in some public spaces, Mr. Norman Peart cooperated with investigators,” read the statement. “He was not considered a suspect nor was he treated as such.”
Panton has the opportunity to request bail again on Feb. 24. The Financial Investigations Division said it is seeking additional charges on Panton and “other perpetrators.”