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Jan 27, 2015

CWU Investigates Alleged Misappropriation of Union Funds by Past Executive

James McFoy & Antonio Gonzalez

CWU President Audrey Matura-Shepherd has been in the news more often lately than she has been out of it. Currently the union is embroiled in a Collective Bargaining Agreement dispute with the Social Security Board. Matura-Shepherd called a press briefing today to deal with that issue, and we’ll have that a little later in our newscast. But there’s another burning issue which is occupying the minds and time of the current CWU executive. That’s the issue of alleged misappropriation of union funds by the past executive. Today the president was asked, and she didn’t shy away from the matter.

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

Audrey Matura-Shepherd, President, CWU

“It’s one of the biggest crosses I carry. It’s the biggest cross I carry because as I’ve publicly said, when we came in here there were limited records; records were intentionally destroyed. The auditors have asked us to bring in both Mister McFoy and Mister Gonzalez because the interviews with them have to fill in the gaps. They are refusing. The only way to then finally do that is if the labor department doesn’t step in or the tripartite party doesn’t step in and help us is to go to court. It was not an easy task to take over this place; there are still questions to be answered. We have been able to piece certain things together, but we don’t have everything. It is rather unfortunate, but since they want to come and audit and attack us for that, what will we do? I cannot produce what I don’t have and I will not lie for anyone. And if me being at the head of the organization means that I need to answer for people’s past acts and inactions, I will do that. I will not cover for anyone; I have no problem with doing that. If all of that is done to frustrate me and have me removed from CWU, it will not happen. I’m not leaving unless I have ill-health or unless I decide I want to live in another country. But I am not leaving because they want accountability; I have to be accountable.”

 

Reporter

“Are you able to estimate for us during that period, how much money was used and how much you suspect was misused?”

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

“No we can’t. Let me tell you why. Because a basic thing like a loan we made, we had no record to show where was the resolution that we could have made CWU make a loan and where those monies went. You see, when you do this kind of work, when it comes to money, certain amount of monies have to be spent only by resolutions going to the executive committee and everything we spend that doesn’t go through a resolution, you need to have receipts and records. The unfortunate situation in which we found ourselves was that Mister McFoy and Mister Gonzalez claimed that they were employees here so they paid themselves bonuses, they paid themselves vacation grants and they paid themselves for vacation they didn’t take. But we have no record of how they came up with that because no one elected to an office here is an employee. I’m not an employee here. So when they brought us to the labor department went they did making those claims, there and then we asked labor department to ask them for the evidence. They never came back to a meeting because they don’t have the evidence. That level of impropriety did occur. In this country, we’ve developed a culture where people don’t get held accountable and we don’t get to lock them up. If it happens at the highest level of government what do you expect to happen below.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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2 Responses for “CWU Investigates Alleged Misappropriation of Union Funds by Past Executive”

  1. Retired CEO says:

    Ms. Shepard is right, corruption in high places by familiar faces are the order of the day in Belize. We are currently undergoing a very serious leadership crisis in Belize. Since the leadership of the late Rt. Hon. Prime Minister, George Cadle Price, our country has gone to the lowest of the low in terms of leadership. Everyone appears to be seeking $$, name, fame and lots of game.

  2. jake says:

    Sounds a lot like Ortega, Keme and the fat man from Caledonia. Rob the money from the farmers
    and live like kings, not accountable. The last time someone tried to have charges brought that
    person was fired. the police would not press charges, I would assume fair trade money was used
    to have the police look the other way.

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