Usain Bolt, a national treasure in Jamaica and one of the greatest and highest-paid athletes, is missing more than $12.7 million from his account with a private investment firm in Jamaica.
The eight-time Olympic gold-winning sprinter’s account had $12.8 million but now shows a balance of $12,000. His lawyers have described a potential act of fraud.
Lawyer Linton P Gordon showed the Associated Press a copy of a letter sent to the investment firm Stocks & Securities Limited demanding that Bolt’s money be returned. The firm has been given a 10-day deadline to return the money or risk being sued.
“The account was part of Bolt’s retirement and lifetime savings,” Gordon said.
The investment firm said that it discovered the fraud earlier this month and several clients may be missing millions of dollars. On its website, the company asked clients to contact Jamaica’s Financial Services Commission, which is investigating the firm.
In 2016, Bolt earned $33 million from sponsorship, prize money and appearance fees, making him the highest-earning track athlete in the world. He retired in 2017 and made the Forbes list of highest-paid athletes in 2018, ranking at number 45 with $1 million in salary and other winnings and $30 million in endorsements. He has a number of lucrative sponsorship deals.
Bolt commands up to $400,000 just for showing up at some events, and is known for his unique ability to sell seats. He has also founded a company, Champion Shave, in Miami.
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One of the greatest sprinters of all time, Jamaica-born Bolt won his last three Olympic gold medals at the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro. He became a household name at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, winning in the 100-meter and 200-meter sprints. Bolt won another three gold medals at the 2012 London Summer Games and three more in 2016. In addition to the Olympics, Bolt also won first place in 11 world championship track events between 2009 and 2015.
Jamaica’s Finance Minister Nigel Clarke called the situation alarming and unusual. He asked people not to base their perceptions of the country’s financial industry on the recent incident regarding Bolt’s finances.
“It is tempting to doubt our financial institutions, but I would ask that we don’t paint an entire hard-working industry with the brush of a few very dishonest individuals,” he said, according to the AP.
The Jamaican daily newspaper The Gleaner reported on Jan. 12 that an unnamed employee at the investment firm Stocks & Securities Limited has been implicated in widespread fraud at the company.
Bolt’s manager, Nugent Walker, told The Gleaner that Bolt has “been with this entity over 10 years…His entire portfolio is being reviewed.”
On Jan. 17, Jamaican financial authorities said they were taking over management of the private investment firm temporarily. It will be allowed to keep operating but must get approval from the government for any transactions.