SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt told reporters on Friday he was baffled by the disappearance of $12.7 million of his funds from a private investment firm that authorities are investigating as a private investment firm more than a decade ago. Part of the massive fraud that started.
Bolt also said he had fired his business manager, adding that it was not an amicable breakup.
The retired star athlete laughed when asked if he was “broke.”
“I’m not broke, but it’s definitely set me back,” he said. “It’s for my future. Everyone knows I have three kids. I’m still taking care of my parents and I still want to be well.”
Bolt’s lawyers said the athlete’s account with Kingston Stocks and Securities Ltd. was reduced from nearly $12.8 million to about $12,000. They have until Friday to return the money or face civil and criminal action.
It was not immediately clear whether any action had been taken as of late Friday. Attorney Linton P. Gordon did not respond to messages seeking comment.
He told the Jamaica Observer that the public should be prepared for the “expected and the unexpected” in the case.
“Given what is happening, there is nothing to say at this stage,” he was quoted as saying. “We’ve met some people, we’re working on some things.”
Earlier this week, Jamaica’s finance minister, Nigel Clarke, announced that the head of the Financial Services Commission would step down and that the Bank of Jamaica would now oversee the island’s financial system.
Some government agencies and elderly customers have also been affected by the alleged fraud, he said.
“It’s always a sad situation. Definitely disappointing,” Bolt said of the seniors affected. “Everyone is confused … I’m as confused as the public.”
Jamaican authorities have requested the help of the FBI and other unidentified international experts, adding that as part of the alleged fraud, customers received false statements about their balances. Officials have not disclosed how many customers in total were affected and how much money was lost in total.
Speaking at a luncheon for the upcoming relay race earlier Friday, Bolt raised the alleged fraud.
“As you all know, I’ve had a tough week, a couple of tough weeks,” he said, adding that he would continue to do everything in his power to elevate his island.
“No matter what happens now, Jamaica is my country. That will never change,” he said.
Speaking to reporters, he said: “I just want to focus on my family and try not to think too much about it because it’s a difficult situation.”
SSE did not respond to messages seeking comment on Friday. The company contacted authorities earlier this month to alert them of an apparent fraud by a manager.
Earlier this week, Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness said his government 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.