Who is Okey Rawson? His was the name which came up first when Abeng News searched for BUSHMASTER, the mysterious poster of emails allegedly transferred between the beleaguered OLINT financial business officers, its clients and assorted politicians and journalists.
But Rawson’s son, Robert’s name turned up in the police blotters in Florida, where he was arrested January 23, by Seminole County Sheriff`s Office on charges of interception of wire, oral or electronic communications and is to be arraigned March 17, at 1:30 p.m in the Seminole County Court before judge Marlene Alva.
Okey Rawson owns the WirelessExpressions Weblog (blog) that has been releasing what is perceived as damning private correspondence between OLINT boss David Smith, his brothers and other family members, the Central Bank, politicians seeking election funding among other missives.
The Rawson information technology businesses include Wirelessexpressions, where the blog on OLINT is hosted, Realacom, an internet service provider with addresses listed as 151 Hernandez Ave., Ormond Beach, Florida and a link to a company called xG Technology registered by investment bank Mooers Branton Flessner, of 240 South Pineapple Ave, Suite 701, Sarasota, Florida.
The telecommunications product offering of xG has drawn a wave of criticisms from technical experts and industry watchers as a scam technology and investment offer.
BUSHMASTER’s identity and credibility though pertinent are not the main matters in Jamaica and its financial sector, where lax regulation and questionable behaviour of politicians and the watchdogs of democracy, the Press, are the paramount issues. Among the correspondents in the widely distributed emails of Olint are Daryl Vaz, Bruce Golding, Audley Shaw, Peter Bovell, Glenford McLeish and James Robertson.
One piece of correspondence was supposedly a request to fund the general election campaigns of Andrew Holness, Andrew Gallimore, Chris Tufton, Joe Hibert. That raises the old matter of campaign contributions and the possible influence of the donors on the government.
A columnist, whose name appears in correspondence as having submitted a pro-OLINT piece for review before publication, has confirmed he sent the article but only as a courtesy to ensure his information was correct. The explanation does not put to rest questions of professionalism and journalistic ethics as the practice, which is shunned by editors, would suggest that all those who are the subjects of reports should be afforded the same courtesy of vetting before publication.
Much of the correspondence released coincide with the period when OLINT was under pressure by the central Bank of Jamaica and the regulatory Financial Services Commission of Jamaica, to wrangle its way out of challenges by established banking institutions about the club’s bona fides as a player in the financial services sector.
Many questioned whether it was a legitimate foreign exchange trading club offering stratospheric profits and drawing a huge client list – which now apparently included its very critics – or if the challenges were mere jealousy by the threatened banks and politicians.
One disgruntled blogger argues that the People’s National Party (PNP) administration did not allow the authorities to pursue OLINT until its members had safely removed their money from the club.
Smith is seen as a nice guy with an impeccable character, unlike Carlos Hill of Cash Plus who had had a stint in a US correctional institution for fraud before setting up his “investment club” which also now sits in tatters as Hill awaits his day in Jamaican court to answer charges that he ran a pyramid scheme.
When the government finally declared that his operations were below the radar and authorities raided the company’s Kingston office in March 2006 and barred it from operating in the country, Smith moved and set up OLINT Turks and Caicos Islands on the British territory which was under Jamaican jurisdiction in the pre-independence era.
Then came news that OLINT was under the scrutiny of US law enforcement for fraud and money laundering and that Turks and Caicos police were also on OLINT’s case and had seized computers and documents during their investigations.
Then came the bigger news that police in the Turks and Caicos had arrested Smith on suspicion of defrauding clients of his investment company. He was released on $1 million bail after surrendering his travel documents. The charges, which are still being investigated, include authoring forged documents, false accounting and theft and Smith is scheduled to appear in court in August.
More than US$200 million dollars in funds are held for thousands of club members.
There are those, like Smith, who think the matter should be treated with prayers and handled with kids gloves. But the OLINT matter and its interconnections with politicians and other financial organizations around the Caribbean, suggest close scrutiny and harsh medicines are what’s needed.
For now the scenario bears some parallels to the Trafigura affair in which J$31-million contribution to the PNP was exposed by the JLP via a banking source where a former bank executive is a codefendant in a lawsuit in which it is alleged that she leaked confidential banking information. The evidence in that case is eagerly awaited.
But it is possible that the Robert Rawson case in Florida could be just as interesting if it sheds any light on those supposed OLINT emails. And now that you know about people like him beware before you press the “Send” button.
Caption: Robert Rawson, arrested on charges of interception of wire, oral or electronic communications and is to be arraigned March 17, at 1:30 p.m in the Seminole County Court before judge Marlene Alva.