Eastern Credit Union cries foul amidst probe into its operations

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

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MEMBERS of the board of directors of the Eastern Credit Union (ECU) say the investigation into its dealings by the office of the Commissioner for Co-operatives is being politically manipulated.

At a media conference at the company’s head office at La Joya, Eastern Main Road, St Joseph on Tuesday, deputy CEO Kester Lashley claimed there was a person hired at the behest of a high-ranking government official to investigate the credit union and undermine the leadership.

“In furtherance of safeguarding our members’ interests, we feel compelled to share information that has been brought to our attention. We have been informed that a former senior executive is in collusion with an employee of the commissioner’s office and they have attempted to influence a number of executives to engage in activities that can be designed to hinder people and office of the CEO.”

Lashley provided no evidence to support his claim.

Asked if the issue was raised with the police or any organisation with regulatory powers over the Commissioner for Co-operatives, Lashley said no.

He said the information was brought to the attention of ECU president, Richard Noray in recent months. Noray was notably absent from the media conference with Lashely supported by Laverne Francis, ECU’s executive director and Arvin Isaac, president of the board of directors.

ECU’s board comprises of 12 people with a quorum being seven.

The Commissioner of Co-operatives is currently investigating ECU as its chief executive officer and one of its directors were dismissed while two other directors have been suspended within the past year.

In a media release on Tuesday, the office of the Commissioner of Co-operatives confirmed that they are investigating ECU, adding that it would not conduct its affairs in the public domain but in a judicious manner.

It added, “In the execution of the responsibilities of the Office of the Commissioner, all precepted officers of the Co-operative Development Division are delegated to act by the Office of the Commissioner.”

“The Office of Commissioner aims to create an enabling environment in which co-operatives can contribute towards the socio-economic development of its members, by providing assistance with registration, training, auditing, development, dispute resolution, supervision/regulation and more.”

Lashely said he could not comment on why there would be political interference or an attempt at it in ECU. He added that there were members of the board who had since distanced themselves from the attempt to undermine the leadership of ECU and thanked them for doing so.

Asked what action was taken or would be taken against the members who had sided with the politically influenced member, Lashley could not say. He said the actions of the board members who are siding with the suspected political lackey, breached the internal guidelines of ECU and could be disciplined. He did not say if that would be done.

Calls to the line minister, Minister of Youth Development and National Service Foster Cummings, went unanswered on Tuesday.