Investigations continue at La Inmaculada Credit Union while members protest

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Updated: July 2, 2015

A crowd of La Inmaculada Credit Union member-owners staged a peaceful demonstration this morning in front of the institution’s headquarters in Orange Walk Town.  This latest move comes after early last month the LICU issued a statement telling its members an investigation was underway and as a result its General Manager was being put on administrative leave.

Arturo Cantun reporting….

A little more than thirty shareholders of la Inmaculada Credit Union, one of the country’s largest credit unions held a peaceful march in front of the institutions main office in front of Park Street this morning. Among the crowd were children, teens, middle age adults and elderly people; all claim to have interest at the bank. Their contention with the bank is that over a month ago, a statement was issued by the institution telling its members that the GM, Yolanda Yoli Gomez had been put on administrative leave and an investigation of the banks finances had ensued. Their press release was vague and did not detail who or why the investigation was being carried out. For a few weeks now, shareholders have accessed the media and demanded an update on the investigation.

Shareholder

We are supposed to know what is going on. They have had two months saying they are looking for some wrong doings. Up to now, we don’t know.”

Arturo Cantun, Love News

How long have you been a member of the LICU”

Shareholder

Up to ten years. It’s about ten years I have been with them.

Arturo Cantun, Love News

Have you gotten loans from them?

Shareholder

Yes, many loans and I have never gotten an I cant. I have always been given the loans.

Shareholder 2

Well in support of, to be frank with you, it’s my sister that used to manage the credit union. What exactly is happening now, today, is something that I myself would like to know. Apparently something is hiding that needs to know.”

Arturo Cantun, Love News

Former Security guard at the bank Romi August claims she was victimized by the interim management when she requested information on what was happening at the bank.”

Shareholder

“I spoke to Ms. Ena Martinez, board member of the credit union and Mr. Gutierrez and Ms. Yareli and I asked them why was Mrs. Yoli sent on administrative leave and they did not give me the correct response. Instead they told me that I am nobody to ask them that question and I stood up. Emotionally they hurt me and I was going through a very terrible time to see what they did to her and they did not come up with the correct answer and we are asking the support of the public. Let’s come out, let’s unite because we need to know why these things are happening at the credit union. Ms. Yoli gave her entire life to grow this credit union and it is very unfair. This is not the LICU that I know of.”

Arturo Cantun, Love News

The crowd was not large as some expected but organizer David Espadas said it’s not the number of supporters that came out but the message they all sent to the ones running the institution. Espadas says that since they brought the issue to the media he has received sort of a satisfactory response.

Shareholder

Yesterday after we had a talk show at the television station, we had a quick reaction of the president of the Board of Directors, Ms. Martinez explaining that they couldn’t give any information because they were having an investigation. She could have done that way back or they could have done that way back. Why wait until the membership goes on the media and asks questions publicly to come out and then you will tell us, oh we can’t answer because the matter is still under investigation. This is what we need to do, sensitize people by the media because the media is the power of the people. I think the media is the power of the people.”

Arturo Cantun, Love News

Are you satisfied with the answer you got?

Shareholder

Not really. Not really. She said that at the AGM whenever it is called then they will bring out the findings of the iinvestigations and then yes we will ask questions, we will have the ample time to ask questions and it sounds a little satisfactory that she had the courage to go out and answer because like what Winston Churchill says, it takes courage to stand up and talk but it also takes courage to sit down and listen and it will take me courage to sit down and listen when the AGM is opened. Today was just one way to send out the message to show discontent and organizers are hoping the bank can intervene now. We might have another strategy, I don’t know as yet, we will go back on the drawing board and see what we can do. Yesterday I made a mistake by saying we have sent a letter to the managing director, it was not to the managing director. The letter was sent to the Central Bank Governor asking them for an AGM date for a meeting.

Arturo Cantun, Love News

“Did they answer you?”

Shareholder

“Not as yet . I didn’t do that letter. It was someone else from the group who did that. We might gather a group and go see him personally, go to the Inmaculada office and ask them face to face and see what they have to say because they need to come out and inform the people. It is not my duty to do that, it is the duty of the managing directors to do that, to come out and inform the people by week to do that, what is going on or what will happen.

Arturo Cantun, Love News

While the crowd marched in front of the bank, Chairman of the Board of Directors Ena Martinez made her way into the bank. We tried to get comment from her. But without luck. The crowd disbursed around eleven without incident.

Late this afternoon, chairperson of the La Inmaculada Credit Union board of directors, Ena Martinez delivered a statement to the media.  Martinez did not take any question from the media present and stated the demonstration this morning was staged by the General Manager’s close relatives. Martinez spoke for approximately two minutes but remained vague on the nature of the investigation presently carried out at the financial institution.  She however promised full accountability and assured the board will inform the members and will keep them informed of any developments.

Ena Martinez – General Manager, LICU

Today a handful of the close friends and families of Mrs. Gomez participated in a small protest across from our offices in Orange Walk Town. We wish to remind our members that we are currently investigating some of the actions and decisions that were taken by Mrs. Gomez at the institution. Currently both the Central Bank of Belize and the auditors are reviewing the information we have provided to them. Once the review is completed by the various departments our attorneys will advise us accordingly. We understand that this should be completed soon. We believe in full accountability and we will come to our membership as soon as the investigation is completed. The board takes its mandate very seriously and every action taken is always for the best interest of our membership and our staff. We are pleased to report that we have reviewed our performance from April 1 2015 to June 30 2015 and we continue to enjoy our usual impressive growth, thanks to the unwavering support and patronage of the thousands of our members who have visited our office for this first financial quarter.”

La Inmaculada Credit Union has been in existence for over 50 years and as of March 31 boasts more than 23 thousand member shareholders and approximately fifty three million dollars in assets from members. Last year the Credit Union opened a branch in Belmopan.