Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt has said he is baffled over how US$12.7 million (NZ$19.5m) of his money has gone missing from a local private investment firm that authorities are investigating as part of a massive fraud that began more than a decade ago.
Bolt also said he has fired his business manager, adding that it was not an amicable split.
When asked if he was “broke,” the retired star athlete laughed.
“I’m not broke, but it’s definitely put a damper on me,” he said.
“It was for my future. Everybody knows I have three kids. I’m still looking out for my parents, and I still want to live very well.”
Bolt’s attorneys have said the athlete’s account with Kingston-based Stocks and Securities Limited dwindled from nearly US$12.8 million to some US$12,000. They had given the company until Friday to return the money or face civil and criminal action.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether any action had been taken as of late Friday. Attorney Linton P. Gordon did not return a message seeking comment.
He told the Jamaica Observer newspaper that the public should anticipate the “expected and the unexpected” in the case.
“There is nothing to say at this stage, given what is happening,” he was quoted as saying. “We have met with persons, and we are dealing with certain matters.”
Earlier this week, Jamaican Finance Minister Nigel Clarke announced that the director of the Financial Services Commission was stepping down and that the Bank of Jamaica would now be in charge of regulating the island’s financial system.
He said several government agencies and elderly customers also were affected by the alleged fraud.
“It’s always a sad situation. Definitely disappointed,” Bolt said of the elderly who were affected. “Everybody’s confused. … I’m as confused as the public.”
Jamaican authorities have requested help from the FBI and other unidentified international experts, adding that clients were given false statements regarding their balances as part of the alleged fraud. Officials have not yet said how many clients overall were affected and how much money in total is missing.
Earlier on Friday, Bolt spoke at a sponsored luncheon for an upcoming relay and referred to the alleged fraud.
“As you all know. I’ve been going through a tough week, a few tough weeks,” he said, adding that he would continue to do everything he can to uplift his island.
“No matter what’s going on right now, Jamaica is my country. That will never change,” he said.
In an aside with reporters, he said: “I’m just trying to focus on my family and trying not to think too much about it because it’s a difficult situation.”
Stocks and Securities Limited did not return a message seeking comment Friday. The company contacted authorities earlier this month to alert them that a manager had apparently committed fraud.
Earlier this week, Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced that his administration would not bail out the company.
“The government will not socialize any debt, and we will not socialize the failure of our banks,” he said.