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Usain Bolt and 30 others to get FBI Help in massive fraud case at SSL Jamaica

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

 

#Jamaica, January 25, 2023 – Investigators in Jamaica have requested assistance from the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other international partners to help investigate an over $2-billion fraud at investment firm Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL), where more than 30 people were affected.

Dr. Nigel Clarke, Jamaica’s Finance Minister made the disclosure on Monday during a special policy address where he responded to the recent scandal that has been making headlines regionally and internationally.  

Clarke said the authorities have complete independence of the investigation and will bring the partners involved in the alleged theft to justice.

“The investigative authorities have full operational independence and will pursue the facts wherever they may lead. They will unearth exactly how funds were allegedly stolen, who benefited from such theft and who organised and collaborated in this,” he said.

The Minister noted that the investigation will also seek to identify whether assets have been acquired locally or overseas with the proceeds of the alleged fraud.

“If and when such assets are identified, all legal steps will be taken to restrain these assets with the intention of full forfeiture,” Clarke said.

Clarke said the police Fraud Squad and the Financial Investigations Division, which is leading the investigations into SSL, asked the FBI and other international partners last week for assistance.

He also told reporters that five state-owned entities had invested in SSL.  These are the National Health Fund – $740 million; National Housing Trust – $238.8 million; National Insurance Fund – $8.4 million; Jamaica Agricultural Society – $8.9 million; and the Jamaica Banana Catastrophe Fund – $98,000.

The minister did not state if any of the public bodies lost any of their investments.

Caribbean News

CHTA Praises Grenada’s Hospitality Industry for Record Growth and Sector-Wide Collaboration

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GEORGE’S, Grenada (April 9, 2024) – The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) praised tourism stakeholders in Grenada for their dedication to fostering collaboration between the public and private sectors, a partnership that has resulted in sustainable growth within the destination’s tourism industry.

During her inaugural visit to The Spice Island last month, Vanessa Ledesma, Acting CEO of CHTA, spoke at a Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association (GHTA) Members Meeting. The event was attended by government officials and members of the business community, highlighting the strong collaborative efforts that have been instrumental in driving the sector’s progress.

“Grenada is an outstanding Caribbean tourism destination, and I am inspired by the passion and dedication of its hospitality industry stakeholders. Through collaboration and a strong public-private partnership, I am confident that the GHTA and its members will continue to thrive,” said Ledesma. 

Sharing insights from CHTA’s data partner ForwardKeys, Ledesma provided valuable information on Grenada’s tourism outlook. She highlighted first-quarter arrivals that are on track to surpass 2023’s figures, positioning Grenada as a leader in regional tourism growth. 

In 2023, Grenada achieved a milestone by welcoming 178,020 stayover visitors, marking a 33.7% increase from 2022. This impressive growth placed Grenada among a select group of regional destinations that surpassed their 2019 arrival figures, delivering an increase of close to 10 percent.

Data from STR and CoStar highlighted a positive trend in the hospitality sector, with hotel occupancy climbing from 61% to 65.6% year-over-year. Additionally, there was an increase in both Average Daily Rate (ADR) and Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR).

Ledesma also pointed to the Caribbean’s strong performance in the global travel recovery of 2023, noting a three percent increase in international arrivals compared to 2019. This contrasted with a 25% decline in total international inbound travel elsewhere in the world. “The Caribbean has truly set a benchmark in the global tourism landscape, underscoring its significant outperformance in attracting visitors last year,” Ledesma remarked, emphasizing the region’s successful rebound and resilience in the face of global challenges.

The association executive highlighted the comprehensive benefits of CHTA membership, including the critical advocacy work on travel and tourism issues to ensure that members’ voices are heard in policy-making circles. She also underscored the importance of marketing opportunities provided through access to Caribbean Travel Marketplace, the premier annual buyer-supplier event in the region, to be held in Jamaica in May.

Ledesma spoke about the value of market intelligence through access to regional performance data and resources in the CHTA Data Center, educational webinars and masterclasses; opportunities for leadership and engagement in CHTA councils and committees; sharing of best practices in various aspects of business beyond the borders of individual destinations; and the availability of timely, curated news and information.

As part of her visit, Ledesma engaged in site visits to member hotels, learning about the hospitality sector’s needs and offering practical solutions to address them. She also explored Grenada’s scenic beauty and charm to deepen her understanding of the destination.

Warm Grenadian hospitality was extended to Ledesma through a reception held in her honor at Calabash Grenada, providing an intimate setting for networking and dialogue among guests, including Senator Adrian Thomas, Minister of Tourism; Senator Salim Rahaman; Nikoyan Roberts, Head of Sales and Marketing at the Grenada Tourism Authority; and other government officials and tourism leaders.

“Vanessa’s visit symbolizes a significant step forward in strengthening the relationship and fostering growth of the Grenadian hospitality sector. The GHTA looks forward to leveraging her expertise and insights to further elevate our industry,” remarked Arlene Friday, CEO of GHTA.

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Caribbean News

Jamaica agricultural advancements despite bad weather

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Credit:JIS

Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

#Jamaica#Agriculture, April 11, 2024 Despite the bad weather conditions in 2023, especially the drought period, Jamaica was able to achieve its second highest domestic crop production on record with over 700 thousand tonnes of local crops produced. This was announced by state minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining, Franklin Witter, on Sunday April 7, at the 41st annual National Farmers’ Month church service held in Trelawney.

 

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Caribbean News

Guyana Wildfires

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

#Wildfires#Guyana, April 11, 2024 – Wildfires have been affecting Guyana, the most recent in the Timehri Community on the north-eastern side since April 4, according to a release from the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Operations (ECHO).

The report says according to PAHO, as of April 5, 28 people have been displaced in a shelter in the Santa Aratack Village. Additionally, the JRC Global Wildfire Information System, also featured in the release, says the total burnt area is more than 16,500 ha.

This comes nearly a month after a 93 year old man was killed by a wildfire in north West Guyana.

Reports say the entire region is dealing with wildfires including Venezuela, Central America and Mexico with a record number of fires, and a major increase compared to the same period in 2023.

 

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