Junior Bacchus: No need for FSA to hurry out of BLA
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August 30, 2013

Junior Bacchus: No need for FSA to hurry out of BLA

A member of the St Vincent Building and Loan Association (SVBLA) Shareholders Committee believes that the elections that took place yesterday at the building society’s Annual General Meeting, could have waited.{{more}}

Committee member Junior Bacchus on Wednesday speculated at a press conference that the Financial Services Authority (FSA) is in such a hurry to rid itself of the beleaguered Association, that they advanced the selection of a new board of directors, in order for them not to be held accountable for pending decisions, set to be made by the organization’s management.

“Since that previous meeting in April at Peace Mo, you get the feeling that the FSA was in a rush to get out,” Bacchus, speaking on behalf of other committee members said.

“…There is no reason to rush; we have already gone through enough. A week or two wouldn’t kill us if you remain there with your face, until we have a properly constituted board, but to just as we say, ‘shove some people in place,’ and then back out and then when things start to happen you will say ‘they are the board.’”

Bacchus suggested that the FSA, who are the regulators of all non commercial bank financial entities in SVG, may be in a haste to recuse itself from pending decisions, scheduled to be made.

One such case, is the August 31, 2013 date, after which, the SVGBLA is to consider approving requests for funds from members.

“I can’t say that’s their intentions, but it may very well be,” he pointed out.

Bacchus lamented that the FSA ignored suggestions that were put forward by the Committee, including the proposal that the FSA resume the payment of interest to shareholders and depositors as early as June.

He argued that these interest payments were used by shareholders and depositors “to make ends meet”.

He also gave reasons to support the committee’s belief that yesterday’s election process was flawed, and did not meet international standards, as the FSA had suggested.

Bacchus pointed out that for one, the nomination form, though having space for a nominator, failed to provide the required space for a seconder.

“This nomination form cannot stand the tests of international standards…. So, technically, if we want to challenge any nominee on this in the court of law… none of these six names that were published recently were seconded.”

The process for the selection of the persons who were nominated for election to the SVBLA’s Board of Directors also came into question by Bacchus, who claimed that the names of the persons on the nomination committee were never made public.

“We were very disappointed that the FSA has not taken on board some of these meaningful recommendations that we thought would have helped to build confidence, because let me say it here loud and clear: FSA cannot save Building and Loan. We, as shareholders, cannot save Building and Loan on our own. It is the confidence that the shareholders and depositors put within the organization, and for us to get the confidence, they have to feel comfortable that the FSA and the Association is working in their interest,” Bacchus said.

Sharda Bollers, director of the FSA, in a press release said that Bacchus’s comments were done at “an inopportune time” and were not in the best interest of the SVBLA.

“On the contrary, we find Mr Bacchus’ objections the day before a scheduled AGM to be unconstructive and distracting from the real matters at hand – which is preserving the future of the Association,” Bollers wrote in an email.

“We regret the position taken by Mr Bacchus, and can only view his comments as personal at this juncture, and the FSA reiterates that its commitment is towards all 20000 plus members, not one or seven individuals.”

In the email, Bollers also used the opportunity to clarify a number of “misconceptions.”

She noted that the proposed date for the AGM was appropriate, since the audited financial statements have been completed, and the FSA has already been in the SVBLA for seven months.

Refuting Bacchus’ claim that the members of the nominations committee were not known, she said they were senior officials of the FSA and the SVBLA. She identified them as being Legal Officer of the FSA, Geshell Peters; Legal Counsel SVBLA, Bernadine Nanton; Deputy Executive Director FSA/CEO(Ag), Eleanor Astaphan; Manager, IFS, FSA, Karen Jackson and Manager Credit Unions/Building Societies, FSA, Gary Matthias.

In the email, Bollers said the issue of integrity was viewed as of major importance by the FSA in establishing criteria for suitability of candidates, that is why the Revised Election Rules capture integrity as well as competence.