KINGSTON, Jamaica, May 8, CMC – Former prime minister PJ Patterson has denied soliciting or receiving a one million US dollar gift from the disgraced Ponzi scheme boss David Smith.
“I categorically deny ever soliciting any such gift,” said Patterson after the Supreme Court of the Turks and Caicos Islands issued a Confiscation Order against Smith, who led the failed Olint investment scheme and pleaded guilty to 23 counts of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering in an Orlando federal court in March last year.
In 2010, Smith received a prison sentence of just over six years in the Turks and Caicos Islands, where he pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy charges.
Prosecutors said that more than 6,000 people invested with Smith, who admitted in his plea agreement that Olint was a “massive” Ponzi scheme, whereby he paid returns to investors not from profit from foreign currency trading but from their own money or that paid by subsequent investors.
Patterson, who is mentioned in the Confiscation Order as having received the one million dollars, said he never got any money from Smith.
“What I can assert is that no money came into any account owned or controlled by me, nor was there any cheque signed by me. Nor did any other financial transaction take place which required or obtained any sanction or approval,” Patterson said.
The former prime minister said during the last few days before the 2007 general elections, he had a telephone conversation with Smith pertaining to reports that in addition to the donations he had already given to both political parties, Smith had made hefty contributions to the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) campaign in Central Manchester because he was determined to see the People’s National Party’s (PNP) Peter Bunting defeated.
According to Patterson, the disgraced financier admitted to doing so because he claimed that Bunting had orchestrated the raid on his Kingston offices and that Smith had indicated if the PNP won the election, Bunting would have been made finance minister.
“I told him that to my certain knowledge, Peter Bunting had denied any such involvement and while I was in no position to anticipate where Cabinet members would be assigned, I assured him that in any case, the traditions of the party and the guidelines for Cabinet conduct would not allow any member to pursue a vendetta or discriminatory treatment against any person or group engaged in business. Anything done would be in accordance with the law.”
Meanwhile, the JLP has confirmed that Smith was one of its contributors to its failed 2007 general election campaign.
“The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) is aware that Olint/David Smith was one of many contributors to the JLP campaign over the period leading up to the September 2007 General Elections,” the party said in a statement.
“The party is examining the claim that US5 million was donated to the party,” the release added.