SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) – Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt told reporters Friday that he is baffled by how $12.7 million of his money has disappeared 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.
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. Everyone knows I have three children. I still look for my parents and I still want to live very well.”
Bolt’s lawyers have said the athlete’s account with Kingston-based Stocks and Securities Limited dwindled from nearly $12.8 million to about $12,000. They had given the company until Friday to return the money or face civil and criminal action.
It was not immediately clear whether any measures had been taken 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’s nothing to say at this stage, given what’s going on,” he said. “We have met people, and we are dealing with certain cases.”
Earlier this week, Jamaica’s Finance Minister Nigel Clarke announced that the director of the Financial Services Commission is stepping down and that the Bank of Jamaica will now be responsible for regulating the island’s financial system.
He said several government agencies and elderly customers were also affected by the alleged fraud.
– It is always a sad situation. Definitely disappointed, Bolt said of the elderly affected. “Everyone is confused. … I am as confused as the audience.”
Jamaican authorities have requested assistance from the FBI and other unidentified international experts, adding that clients were given false statements regarding their balances as part of the alleged scam. Officials have not yet said how many clients were affected in total and how much money is missing in total.
Earlier on Friday, Bolt spoke at a sponsored lunch for an upcoming relay and referred to the alleged fraud.
“As you all know. I’ve been through a tough week, a tough few weeks,” he said, adding that he will continue to do everything he can to lift his island.
“No matter what happens 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 for comment on Friday. The company contacted authorities earlier this month to alert them that an executive had apparently committed fraud.
Earlier this week, Jamaica’s 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 the banks,” he said.