The Advocates Network (AN) is calling for vigilance to avoid what it calls a disastrous repeat of the unfolding multi-million dollar scandal at the Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL).
The AN reminds the public that in 1973, Paul Chen Young and Company (PCYC) Limited, a member of Dr Paul Chen Young’s Eagle Group, was created and later renamed SSL in 2006.
According to AN, since then, it has been a 50-year saga of mismanagement of SSL, among other financial institutions, costing taxpayers $14.70 billion during the 1990s.
“Significantly, no director was held accountable for the breach of their fiduciary responsibility that has ruined not only countless businesses, especially MSMEs but also devastated the lives of untold individuals, including pensioners, who lost their entire life savings,” a release from the Network said.
The Network said 50 years later, history is about to repeat itself. According to the Financial Services Commission of Jamaica (FSC), SSL breached all the regulations governing the securities industry, and its licence was threatened with suspension in 2017, but no action was taken.
“The SSL saga raises several important issues that we urge Jamaicans to pursue through active advocacy to prevent further financial losses to taxpayers and further devastation of businesses and livelihoods,” AN said.
There are at least three issues of primary concern:
Sanctions for Breach of Fiduciary Responsibilities by Directors of Private Companies. One director, who has been at the helm of SSL and its predecessor PCYC Ltd over the past 50 years, is Hugh Croskery, executive chairman of SSL. Does Croskery and other directors of SSL meet the “fit and proper” standards required under the Companies Act? Will anyone be held accountable for breach of their fiduciary responsibilities?The FSC is the government’s supervisor for the life insurance, general insurance, pensions, securities, and mutual funds industries, along with the stock exchange. They supervise approximately JA$7 trillion, including several retirement funds, representing 285.71% of Jamaica’s GDP.The size and coverage of its supervision are significant and, therefore, demand the highest standards of transparency and accountability, including ministerial oversight, to give confidence to the Jamaican people that its financial transactions are safe. The AN again encourages the government to ensure that all Public Sector Boards comply with the Public Sector Bodies Management and Accountability Act, and its Regulations, and in the case of the FSC, the Financial Services Commission Act.
The network add: “Is there a political connection between Jackie Stewart Lechler, FSC chair between 2017 and 2021, which could explain the inaction of the FSC in suspending the license of SSL since 2017? With no apparent qualifications for the position, her appointment continues to raise troubling concerns about appointments to public sector Boards based on political connections rather than competence. It also raises vexing issues about the nexus between big money and politics and the high levels of corruption,” the Network said.
To avoid repetition of this troubling debacle, the AN calls on Jamaicans to stay alert and pay close attention to the SSL saga, as it unfolds.
“Jamaicans must actively hold political leaders accountable and ensure that the law is applied equally to all, despite political connections, colour, class or race,” the Network release said.