SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt told reporters Friday that he is baffled by the loss of $12.7 million of his money from a private investment firm that authorities are investigating as part of a massive fraud that began over a decade ago. .
Bolt also said that he fired his business manager, adding that it was not an amicable parting.
When asked if he was “broke,” the retired star athlete laughed.
“I’m not broke, but it’s definitely slowed me down,” he said. “It was for my future. Everyone knows that I have three children. I am still taking care of 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 was reduced 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 if any action had been taken as of Friday night. 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 is nothing to say at this stage, given what is happening,” he was quoted as saying. “We have met with people and we are discussing certain issues.”
Earlier this week, Jamaica’s Finance Minister Nigel Clarke announced that the head of the Financial Services Commission was stepping down and that the Bank of Jamaica would now be in charge of regulating the island’s financial system.
He said several government agencies and senior clients were also affected by the alleged fraud.
“It’s always a sad situation. Definitely disappointed,” Bolt said of the affected elderly. “Everyone is confused… I am just as confused as the public.”
Jamaican authorities requested the help of the FBI and other unnamed international experts, adding that customers received false statements about their balances as part of the alleged fraud. Officials have not yet said how many overall customers were affected and how much money is missing in total.
Earlier Friday, Bolt spoke at a luncheon sponsored by an upcoming relay and addressed the alleged fraud.
“As everyone knows, I’ve had a tough week, some tough weeks,” he said, adding that he would continue to do whatever he can to improve his island.
“No matter what is happening 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 about it too much because it’s a tough situation.”
Stocks and Securities Limited did not return a message seeking comment on Friday. The company contacted authorities earlier this month to alert them that a manager had apparently committed fraud.
Earlier this week, Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness said his administration would not bail out the company.
“The government will not socialize any debt and we will not socialize the bankruptcy of our banks,” he said.