Latin America & Caribbean

Jamaica political parties probe fraudster funding claim

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The two main political parties in Jamaica are investigating allegations that they received large sums of money from a convicted fraudster in 2007.

David Smith is serving a 30-year sentence for defrauding investors in the Caribbean and Florida through a phoney investment group called Olint.

Former Prime Minister PJ Patterson, of the governing People's National Party, has denied accepting $1m from Smith.

The opposition Labour Party says it is examining claims that it received $5m.

Mr Patterson, who served as prime minister from 1992 to 2006, denied "soliciting or receiving any such gift".

People's National Party Chairman Robert Pickersgill said the party had no record of having received money from Smith.

Ponzi scheme

The Labour Party (JLP) released a statement saying it was aware that David Smith "was one of many contributors to the JLP campaign over the period leading up to the September 2007 General Election".

It said it would examine claims that Smith paid $5m (£3m) to the party.

The allegations were outlined in court documents released by the Supreme Court of the Turks and Caicos Islands, one of the locations where Smith ran his multi-million-dollar ponzi scheme.

According to the documents, the two parties as well as Mr Patterson and Labour Party Deputy Treasurer Daryl Vaz benefited from donations made by Smith.

Mr Vaz has denied that any donation he received from Smith was a personal gift.

Smith was sentenced to 30 years in prison by a US court in August 2011 after pleading guilty to money laundering and wire fraud.

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