Assets of Calliaqua Friendly Society sold, members seeking answers
AN AERIAL SHOT of the Calliaqua Society Hall, one of two properties owned by the Calliaqua Provident Friendly Society that were sold in 2022
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August 11, 2023

Assets of Calliaqua Friendly Society sold, members seeking answers

More than five years ago, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) sounded the alarm for Friendly Societies and the potential risk of financial loss to members.

The warning has become a revelation for some, following news about transactions in which assets of The Calliaqua Provident Friendly Society were sold without the knowledge of members or the heirs of members, and no indication as to when a disbursement of funds will be made to members.

According the legal conveyances dated February 4 and 7, 2022, two transfers of ownership, one for a 7,228 square-foot lot of land and the other for a 1,700 square-foot lot were carried out. The conveyances identify the buyer of the properties as RM Farms Ltd., with the larger lot being sold for $145,000 and the smaller lot for $44,000.

Both parcels of lands are located in Calliaqua and the conveyances carry the signatures of three trustees of the society, Hendrick Alexander, Jeanette Carr and Leroy Pompey.

When contacted by SEARCHLIGHT, Alexander declined to make a comment.

A statement from the FSA on the issue revealed that the Society is currently undergoing cancellation proceedings by the FSA.

“… All relevant disbursements to members or beneficiaries will be made in accordance with the relevant legislative requirements. Any sale of assets in these types of proceedings are undertaken by the society itself, and the funds therefrom will be distributed,” the statement issued to SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday, August 9, said.

When SEARCHLIGHT visited the community to speak to residents, one elderly woman said she was a member of the Society but she had “given up long time now” hinting at the lack of financial benefits for members.

Heirs of members who spoke to SEARCHLIGHT described the situation as vexing and noted a lack of transparency and accountability in the process of the sale of the lands.

Questions were raised about if a public notice had been issued about the society’s intent to dispose of assets as well as the current status of the money received from the sale.

They said they believed that the information about the money from the sale should be made available to those who are and were financially invested in the Society.

One person told SEARCHLIGHT that he has had questions about the functioning of the Society for some time now. He alleged that when members of the Society died, they were not issued the death benefits due to them.

When queries were made about the payout of death benefits to children of deceased members, the source said they were told that their parents’ books were not up to date. The rules of the Society dictate that a member must be current in order to receive a death benefit payout.

The source also said that when enquiries were made about missing record books, he was told that members’ record books had allegedly been destroyed.

According to the Friendly Societies Act 2021, societies are required to keep records of the numbers of members, contributions, cash holdings and remittances.

While SEARCHLIGHT was not able to locate any advertisement for the sale of the lands prior to the February 2022 transactions, there was a public notice, published by the FSA in April 28, 2023 edition of the SEARCHLIGHT informing of the cancellation of the Society.