Nationwide News understands the Board of Directors of the National Insurance Fund, NIF, has called in the Police Fraud Squad and the Financial Investigations Division, FID, to investigate a suspicious half-a-billion dollar transaction involving shares bought on the Jamaica Stock Exchange, the JSE.

The NIF falls under the Labour Ministry and is the source from which pensions and other benefits in the National Insurance Scheme, NIS, are paid.

Law enforcement sources say at the epicentre of the FID investigation is a decision by the NIF management to purchase LASCO manufacturing shares valued at JMD$519-million.

The shares were bought without the permission or knowledge of the Board of the NIF.

The FID was called in after it was disclosed that not only was the Board kept in the dark but neither the NIF’s investment committee nor the Ministry of Finance were consulted before the massive share purchase was done.

It’s understood the shares were bought despite the investment committee advising caution. At least one senior manager has been separated from the NIF after the Board became aware of the transaction.

It’s also understood that other staffers who’ve been at the NIF for several years are under investigation as well.

The FID probe has also turned its attention to another corporate entity – a leading stock brokerage – which acted as an agent in facilitating the transaction. The multi-million dollar transaction is generating ripples in market circles because questions of insider trading are being raised.

It’s further understood the NIF Board through the Labour Ministry referred the matter to the FID and the Police.

When contacted this afternoon, NIF Chairman, Lennox Elvy, was cautious and noted that the investigation is at a sensitive stage.

Mr. Elvy says the Board has moved to ensure that the highest levels of accountability are maintained at the Fund.

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Law enforcement sources say a senior staffer at the NIF who bought shares valued at over $10-million which belonged to his wife then sold it to the NIF at a dollar more per share is also under scrutiny.

Calls placed this afternoon to FID CEO, Robin Sykes, were not answered.

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