St. Francis Xavier Credit Union Board Suspended Amid Management Concerns

St. Francis Xavier Credit Union Board Suspended Amid Management Concerns

Members of the Board of Directors along with the General Manager, Rafael Dominguez Senior of the St Francis Xavier Credit Union (SFXCU) have reached out to the media to address concerns at the facility.  The board members and the general manager are currently on suspension after the Registrar of Credit Unions, Kareem Michael, was forced to intervene amid reports of questionable managerial decisions as well as questionable reporting procedures.  The group remains suspended from duty to this day but has indicated that they are concerned over matters taking place at SFXCU in their absence.  According to the suspended Chairman, Everaldo Puk, the credit union has stopped issuing emergency loans, they have increased fees at the facility and they further report that the appointed administrator, Martin Marshalleck, is not focused on the credit union as he is busy with other business.

Everaldo Puk, BoD Chairman (SFXCU): “We need to inform our members as to what has been occuring in the union and these are things which we have been learning from members who are coming out of the premises after having approached the personnel in there for different services. And one of the first things that we understand is that there are loan restrictions now. So once you owe a balance you just wouldn’t qualify and go for a new loan which we woul call refinancing, that’s completely out. In some cases people who have the amount of savings that would cover the loan would still have their application denied, not contemplated at all because they say if you owe any balance you just won’t qualify for any further loan. Our credit union has always been known for its willingness to contemplate assisting in emergencies now there have been several members that came out from the offices saying ‘I went in there, I had an emergency and I was told no there is no loan for emergencies.’ Fees for services rendered there have gone up and what really concerns us also is we look at major renovations going on without an approved budget and yet these are renovations that may be going contrary to already established plans and so monies are just being used for quick fix instead of really long lasting building construction.”

Dominguez, the suspended GM, told the media that the facility was not in any financial trouble under his leadership.

Rafael Dominguez, Suspended General Manager, SFXCU: “At no time has there been any danger in the financial credit union. As a matter of fact the figures are there to show that in 2023 the credit union kept growing. Never the less I need to point out that while checking on the figures as of December of 2023, recalling that we were suspended in March 2023 and then the Central Bank administrator came in place. The figures of December 2023 which is being stated on the Central Bank website showing that St.Francis Xavier Credit Union overall capital and liabilities has reduced from $117 million dollars ending March to some closer to $115 million dollars at ending of December. The loan portfolio has decreased as well from $90 million to $87 million. So we can see that something is triggering financial business of the credit union which is a concern for us that while we thought that well if the Central Bank is taking over things would be better but that is not the case.”

This recent upset at SFXCU originated on April 13, 2022, when the renewal of Dominguez’ contract as general manager was not renewed.  On that very same occasion, Domiguez’ son, Rafael Junior was fired as the manager for the Caye Caulker branch, along with his spouse, Lina Garcia who was managing the San Pedro Town branch.  Their removal, however, was brief as at the credit union’s AGM on June 26, a new board of directors had voted to reinstate Dominguez, his son and his daughter-in-law.  Shortly after the Credit Union League wrote to the Registrar, calling for an intervention at SFXCU and its affairs.  A letter was subsequently sent to the credit union from the Registrar, querying the reinstatements and the suspension of 13 employees.  This was followed by an audit that was concluded in August 2022.  The audit reportedly showed that there were a number of deficiencies in how the credit union was being operated, and that there were numerous breaches of policies, procedures, by-laws, and contraventions of the Credit Union Act.  When asked about these discrepancies, Chairman Puk noted that these were brought over from the previous board and that the current board was given 8 months to rectify.  

Reporter: This thing looks like you all were running this thing like a mafia. That is just from these snippets I get, it looks like you were running it like a mafia. 

Everaldo Puk, BoD Chairman (SFXCU): “I see what you mean but it’s not this present board it’s the past board and we were to do all the fixes in eight months. We were not given the time when the administrator took over.”

Reporter: You all had eight months to rectify and fix that, but in the reports that I’ve been reading there was not necessarily, in my view, efforts made for proper accountability and transparency. Look at the situation where you have Mr.Dominguez as the general manager there at that credit union, his son managing another branch of the credit union, his son’s girlfriend or wife managing another branch of the credit union. And then a report during his tenure talking about not having proper accountability, proper cash reports and what have you and bypassing certain procedures and processes. Now if you were brought in to fix and rectify what the previous board had done and you were given eight months to do that do you feel that perhaps your decision made in terms of management, accountability and following proper processes were the way to go in trying to rectify what your predecessors had done ? 

Everaldo Puk, BoD Chairman (SFXCU): “We did not find it necessary to do away with those employees.”

Reporter: So for you perception and optics in terms of accountability and transparency was not a factor ? 

Everaldo Puk, BoD Chairman (SFXCU): “No. Their work was very transparent and in fact they were very fruitful.”

Puk along with the other board members and the credit union’s general manager had taken the Registrar to court on ten points of objection.  The court ruled on these points last week with only one in favor of Puk and his associates.  Puk, etal were represented in court by Senior Counsel Dean Barrow while the Registrar was represented by Senior Counsel Andre Marshalleck

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