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May 13, 2022

Members of St. Francis Xavier Credit Union Protest against “Irregularities”

Earlier today, members of St Francis Xavier Credit Union in Corozal Town staged a protest on the grounds that irregularities are reportedly taking place at the financial institution. They demand an Annual General Meeting which, according to them, has not been held for several years, before COVID-19 disrupted business. Now they say it’s time for that forum to be held so they can raise their concerns and ask questions. News Five’s Marion Ali headed north today to cover the event and filed this report.

 

Marion Ali, Reporting

Twenty members of St Francis Xavier Credit Union braved the unforgiving sun this morning to express their discontent with the administration and management of the institution. They believe that for the past few years, the method of operation has been diverted from the way it’s supposed to and now they are demanding that an Annual General Meeting be held urgently.Past president of the St Francis Xavier Board of Directors, Juana Terry says there are board members serving long after there should have been an election. The last one, she said, was held in 2017.

 

Juana Terry

Juana Terry, Immediate Past President,St Francis Xavier Board

“Every three years, every term, all Board members are subject to re-election.

The General Manager was dismissed after a time when he struggled with them during COVID and the credit union remained solid all through that time, and yet he was dismissed wrongfully. If the Board is not satisfied.”

 

Marion Ali

“The contract does not have to be renewed, though.”

 

Juana Terry

“Yes, but the Board does not have the power to – the Board has to take it to an A.G.M. and the members/owners will listen to the sides, give the General Manager an opportunity to defend himself and then that will be put to a vote.”

 

Timotea Sanchez

Timotea Sanchez, Member, St Francis Xavier Credit Union

“There are many questions that come to my mind and maybe to other members.

I am concerned because if they wanted the man out, why not wait for the annual general meeting? They chased him out with police and that is not right, He is not a criminal.”

 

Credit union member, Everaldo Puck says he has suspicions about the management of the institution and today made an appeal to the Central Bank of Belize to take heed.

 

Everaldo Puck

Everaldo Puck, Member, St Francis Xavier Credit Union

“We need Central Bank to send someone to do a real forensic auditing.”

 

Marion Ali

“Have you all asked for that?”

 

Everaldo Puck

“Oh yes, we have. Central Bank hasn’t answered.”

 

Mayet Castillo

Mayet Castillo, Interim Chairlady, Supervisory Committee

“They are stating that only the board and Central Bank has authority to call a meeting, which is totally contravening the revised act.”

 

Mayet Castillo told us that while she has been duly elected as the interim chair of the credit union’s supervisory committee, her election has been met with stark objection.

 

Mayet Castillo

“The chairperson had resigned, so there was a vacant post. One of the supervisory committee members invited me for an interview to be held on the ninth (of February) – that same day I was appointed. But from then I have had trouble again with the president of the board. He approached me one day while I was there after I had been elected and he told me that I cannot be in that office until Central Bank sends me a letter approving my position. That’s one irregularity ma’am because one thing I can tell you, the board has no right to interfere into the supervisory committee.”

 

News Five visited St Francis Xavier Credit Union during the protest to seek their response to the allegations or clarification on any of the points raised, but they informed, through the receptionist we spoke with, that they have no comment on the matter. The credit union has sent out two press releases, however, one stating that contrary to a press release sent out by a member of an upcoming A.G.M., nothing of the sort has been planned. The release ended by stating that only its Board of Directors may set the date for an A.G.M. In the other release, the credit union explained that the general manager was not dismissed and was on a five-year contract, which has expired and which the board decided to not renew, in the best interest of the credit union. The press release also speaks to allegations of unethical behaviour by high-ranking officials as baseless, chalking up the assertions to simply a smear campaign by members who are disgruntled over the contract that was not renewed. In this release, St Francis Xavier Credit Union set June twenty-sixth as the date for the A.G.M., explaining that the delay was because of COVID-19 restrictions. At that event, there will be elections to fill vacant posts, the release of the annual audit, and announcements of dividends and rebates.

 

Marion Ali for News Five.


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