LICU Board speaks of firing of General Manager

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Updated: August 20, 2015

The controversy over the termination of Yolanda Gomez as the general Manager of the La Inmaculada Credit Union has taken another turn, as on Wednesday night, the Board of Directors issued a recorded statement. Before this, Gomez’s supporters have been asking for answers, something they said was not forthcoming from the Board of Directors. After weeks of no response, a group was formed and they got a petition which was signed by over a thousand members forcing the Board to call a special meeting to address the concerns. That meeting is set for this Saturday at the Muffles College Auditorium in Orange Walk Town.

Arturo Cantun reporting…

“In a late night pre-recorded statement, which was televised via two local television stations in Orange Walk, the President of the board of directors of La Inmaculada Credit Union, Ena Martinez revealed more details on the ongoing investigation at the financial institution. In a 12 minute address to members, Martinez said that the board’s statement comes as a prelude to Saturday’s Special General Meeting and acknowledges that the meeting was triggered by members who had signed a petition.  Martinez went on to explain that this all started after the months leading to the termination of Yolanda Gomez there were frequent complaints against her about her management at the credit union.  Martinez stated that the complaints just kept escalating and it was the reason that the board saw it appropriate to conduct an internal and external investigation.  After the preliminary findings were made available, the revelation was to the board of alleged irregularities conducted by Gomez as it pertains to internal policies and national banking regulations. As a result Gomez was put on administrative leave while a Special Financial Investigation was carried out on advice from the Credit Union registrar.  During the investigation, according to Martinez, several invitations were made to Gomez to attend joint session with the board and the auditor to assist in the investigation to which she did not adhere.  This was the reason why the board then unanimously decided to terminate her services as General Manager. The special financial investigation has been ongoing since April and according to Martinez what has been discovered is of great concern to the board.  She mentioned that while the board could not share the details of the investigation she did list 11 major reasons why the board saw fit to dismiss Gomez.

Ena Martinez – President, Board of Diectors

Shortly after the board of directors along with the supervisory and credit committees were presented the progress reports from both the central bank and special financial investigator Mr.Cedric Flowers. These preliminary findings indicate that there are serious and deliberate breaches of protocol and policies many of which have been directly and or indirectly attributed to the former general manager.”One; misdirection. Occasions where instructions were given to employees to process transaction which resulted in significant financial loses to the institution. Two, violation of conflict of interest policy in the extent of undisclosed and under disclosed related party transactions to the board of directors. Three, misrepresentation. Full and partial information withheld from the board and other committees. Four, fraud. Fraudulent transactions resulting in financial loses. Five, substantial cash shortage.Six, forgery. Falsification of signatures on loan documents. Seven, unauthorized rules of the corporate credit cards for personal purposes. Eight, Improper cash management particularly in relation to the movement of cash out of the vault.Nine, unauthorized loan and interest write offs.Ten, deliberate falsification of cash card reports.Eleven, excessive loan exposure.Obviously these very serious and deliberate breaches in protocol and policies coupled with improper management of the institution have resulted in big financial loses of at least half a million Belize dollars.”

Martinez explains that the board remains firm about the termination of Gomez and will seek to pursue legal action for damages caused by Gomez’s decision.

Ena Martinez – President, Board of Diectors

“At this junction we wish to firmly assure our member owners that La Imaculada Credit Union remains financially sound. Your investments are secure and all services to members continue uninterrupted. The termination of Mrs. Gomez was the first step taken by the board to protect the interest of members of LICU. In furtherance of this objective the board as decided to pursue legal recourse for the recovery of the lost funds.”

As mentioned, a special general meeting is scheduled for this Saturday morning at nine o’clock at the Muffles College Auditorium.