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#516289 - 07/29/16 11:12 AM Mount Carmel Credit Union Folds, Members Lose Deposits
Marty Offline
The Mount Carmel Credit Union in Benque Viejo Town has been in financial trouble for more than 15 years now - and last night members were told that their Credit Union would be closing down. Why? Well, Mount Carmel is bankrupt, and the credit union is about to lose its headquarters to the DFC, to which it owes 454 thousand dollars -and cannot pay.

And the bottom line for the hundreds of members? It's really bad news….they will lose all their savings just like that (poof) gone! The few dozen members who showed up to a meeting with the Credit Union League were given the bad news last night. Today in Benque Viejo, long time member David Ruiz told us it was like a sudden death:

David Ruiz, Mt. Carmel Credit Union Member
"Well very disheartening news Jules, that the credit union will just stop functioning, the DFC will come and sell the building, close it down and that's it. That's basically it. It was very disheartening and presented in a very de-humanized form. I mean there is no money to give you or shares back to recover your shares. So that's the news we have to say. The league just say that we can't do anything - it your credit union - as plain as that."

Jules Vasquez
"So what happens to your savings?"

David Ruiz, Mt. Carmel Credit Union Member
"Well we lose our savings and there were some people at the meeting that worked their whole lives in the US. There is this lady who lost this money that she had to build her house."

Jules Vasquez
"I heard she had $50,000 in there."

David Ruiz, Mt. Carmel Credit Union Member
"About that. The elderly, which hurts my heart, the people with pension, pensioners - people that were just living from day to day getting their savings and that's it. At no point did the league come and meet with the members, call a meeting. Why last night until the very end when we are about to lose the building. I mean what can we do in a matter of days you know? People were just shocked and people couldn't even plan, a follow up thing to say we're going to do this. We need time to synced in - it's like a sudden death. This is simply a failure of the whole structure. We as members who failed to demand accountability when it happened, the failure of management, board of directors, because it was not an overnight thing and then the big embezzlement, the people who stole the money. There are elements that want the credit union to die, so that the evidence dies with it. Because if there is a forensic auditing, many people would have to account and respond - what happened to that money? The poorer people just put up. The amount I had which was $7,000 which is significant for me at this point. You can't find $7,000 out there. I mean for the poorer people. Benque is not an aggressive community and its part of our culture, but also part of our culture is we have the indigenous part where people can take many things, but when the cup runs over, that's when things can become really bad."

Ruiz says they are trying to take up a petition to the Prime Minister to ask forgiveness for the DFC loan. The Executive Director of the Belize Credit Union League, Corrine Robinson-Fuller did not return our calls for a comment. We are told she delivered last night's bad news.

Mount Carmel began running into trouble from at least 2001 when two employees, Martita Duarte and Julio Santos were accused of embezzling more than five hundred thousand dollars form the institution.. They were charged but the prosecution fell through, and nothing was repaid. Later reports said the sum lost may have been closer to a million dollars.

Channel 7


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#516727 - 08/10/16 11:28 AM Re: Mount Carmel Credit Union Folds, Members Lose Deposits [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
Nothing can be done for Mount Carmel Credit Union members

The Executive Director of the Belize Credit Union League (BCUL, Corrine Robinson Fuller met with several dozen members of the Mount Carmel Credit Union MCCU on Wednesday night of last week at the Cancha Marshalleck in Benque Viejo del Carmen to provide a status report. Given that the MCCU has been under the administration of BCUL since December 2006, the report was a timely one as the last meeting of this type was held in 2011.

Corrine Fuller told members that 1.3 million had been stolen from the Credit Union when its discovery was made in 2002. The embezzlement had proven to be too much and as a result it was only a matter of time that the MCCU would be closed down.

“The high delinquency, the high external debt, your credit union is insolvent and what insolvent means is that your credit union cannot pay its debt and it is also operating at a loss,” Corrine Fuller told MCCU members.

Other contributing factors to the failure of the MCCU in previous years was that “…members were getting loans , but they weren’t telling them that they need to sign a promissory note and they weren’t taking their land title and putting a mortgage on it and registering it at the Lands Department , so it was improper management that is why when some people who are delinquent we have to be taking them to court now because if those security were proper in place we could have gone through the regular channel of selling their property and getting the money…people were given loans based on character....thousands of dollars were given based on character,” she revealed to members.

There are a number of measures that Credit Unions members can take to avoid meeting a similar fate as that of the MCCU.

“The members when you come to Annual General Meetings, you should not accept dividends and that would be sufficient, you look on the financial statements, ask questions and interrogate these people that are managing your money; so you are right that it has been failure at different levels but that is it…but everybody who is a member of Mount Carmel Credit Union had the responsibility to ask questions as well,” Fuller explained.

Also, credit union members can insist that their credit union have a fidelity bond where the credit union will have to pay for that insurance if people in the credit union “…thief the money” and “so the insurance company would pay”, advised Corrine Fuller.

The Executive Director of the Belize Credit Union League also advised that a class action should be pursued. But for that to happen someone would have to lead, evidential statements made to the police on the monies stolen as well as a lawyer hired.

“If you are willing to do that then as I said we would support you as much as possible,” said Fuller.

For David Ruiz, a MCCU member and author, the revelations that were made in Benque last Wednesday were much and here he expresses himself in English and Spanish.

“There are interests right now that want to favor the death of this Credit Union, because inside there, there is evidence.. evidencia adentro que si se hace un estudio forensico muchos irian a la corte, a la carcel y hay muchos que le convienen que muera este credit union para que muera la evidencia.”

The Belize Credit Union League, which is based in Belize City, had been assisting Diany Guzman and staff of the current MCCU in an effort to take the credit union out of its troubled past, but despite the genuine efforts the MCCU was still struggling. Diany Guzman told the Guardian that she wanted to do more for the people of Benque but “…without the help of the members it is harder.”

The Guardian

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