By Charles Gladen
CITY OF COROZAL, Wed 25th May 2022
There is currently a considerable degree of unrest within the St. Francis Xavier Credit Union (one of the nation’s largest credit unions), where a showdown is apparently underway between two opposing sides – with a group of disgruntled members and one recently fired. general manager on one side and the union’s board of directors and the members who support them on the other.
The ever-growing rift between the two sides became public knowledge in early May when, on May 9, people who claimed to be union members and unhappy with the decisions of the current union board issued a statement. press release in which it was announced that the union’s “long-awaited annual general meeting” – which had not taken place for three years due to the pandemic – would take place on May 29. These purported members, who included in the statement assurances that they had obtained the health certificate approval from the ministry to hold the event, seemed eager to proceed with the elections of board leaders, which, according to them, was long overdue, and to respond to what they see as troubling actions on the part of the institution’s leadership.
These actions included what they called “unethical behavior by senior officials” and the “unlawful dismissal of the chief executive.” The people who released the statement further claimed that a special petition to address these issues had been circulated and that more than 2,000 union members had put their signatures on the petition.
The day after this statement was released, however, another statement was released. This second press release was issued by the union’s board of directors, which advised members that the statement issued the day before was not authorized and that no general meeting would be held on May 29. He then claimed that such an assembly would be illegal and that “no decision taken at this meeting is binding and valid”. They said instead, an annual general meeting would be held on June 26. Additionally, the board, in its statement, denied any allegations of unethical behavior.
It was reported, however, that on Friday, May 13, a total of 25 of the credit union members lined up at the facility to express their dissatisfaction with the current administration and their objection to what they considered the wrongful termination of Rafael Dominguez, former general manager of the St. Francis Xavier Credit Union.
The credit union’s board, however, insists that Dominguez was not fired. Instead, the board said in its May 10 statement, the directors simply opted not to renew his five-year contract, which was due to expire on April 30, 2022. That contract, they said, was “one-sided” and provided salaries. and benefits that are too excessive and unsustainable for the financial institution.
According to the board, a letter was sent to Dominguez on Friday, April 22 notifying him of the board’s decision not to renew his contract, and they also claimed that he accepted the decision.
Yesterday, Wednesday May 25, however, Rafael Dominguez held a press conference in which he presented his own account of what happened.
He indicated that, ten days before the end of the contract, he had been “called to a meeting of the board of directors and the members of the advisory committee, including the internal auditor” and had been “served with a letter dated April 23, 2022” in which the board said, “In our view, you have slept at the helm. You certainly did not fulfill your responsibilities as stipulated in your contract. Your performance as a manager has certainly not been satisfactory. Currently, our liquidity is in a precarious state and has been reported to us by the Central Bank… Continuing to pay your salary as stipulated in your contract is not sustainable for the fund and, subsequently, its members.
Dominguez then pointed out to reporters at the press conference, however, that there was a different reason for his dismissal – his attempt to fire one of the two employees he believed embezzled funds from the institution. .
“At some point in February 2022 there were two employees who had been caught up in an embezzlement. I was able to fire one of them, at that time, and so in March, when I was about to fire the other employee, I was served with a letter from the board of administration saying that they had created a human resources committee. To say that I have no other authority to continue hiring or firing any other Caisse Populaire employee. And that’s where the final part came from the board that they were tying my hands so they couldn’t fire that employee,” Dominguez said.
“…So that’s all that falsely took on me to frustrate me and so they decided not to renew my contract and fired me from Credit Union,” Dominguez continued.
Dominguez alleges that on April 22, he sent a letter to the board indicating that he was able to renew his contract; however, the board rejected his contract renewal proposal and demanded that he relinquish company-issued properties, he said. He was then escorted out of the facility by police.
“I saw two policemen behind me, in front of all the directors and the surveillance committee. I was driven home because I had a gun registered in my name that was bought by the credit union. I didn’t have that gun on me that day so I had to be escorted home for that, and then I was taken back to the credit union office to have them register all the credit union properties popular, including cell phone, laptop, credit union vehicle, keys to my office, and at that point I was surprised, because I hadn’t expected it, and I was said the electronic devices had been confiscated immediately, so I had no opportunity to be able to remove my personal information on both devices,” Dominguez noted.
It has been reported thatt Wednesday morning, a fight broke out at the financial institution, in which Mayet Castillo, the chairman of the St. Francis Xavier Credit Union oversight committee, and Jorge Cob, a committee member, were assaulted by Michael Riverol, the current general manager of the credit union. It has been reported that Riverol has denied allegations that he pushed Castillo and Cob, and snatched Castillo’s phone and threw him to the ground.
When Mayet Castillo spoke to local journalists, she described the alleged fight she allegedly had with Michael Riverol.
“I was writing in our logbook the presences we had reached when suddenly I heard a big boom and the door opened. And when I looked up, I could have seen this man coming – Mr. Michael Riverol, the assistant general manager. He came straight to me, and he started to hold my [neck]and trying to choke me, and I was very scared for my life. I felt like I couldn’t even breathe. I don’t know if he realized it, but he let me go. And as he let go of me, he held me by my arms and he started shaking me and said, “I told you I didn’t want you here.” Mr. Michael Riverol and [we]Oversight Committee, never had a conversation on this topic that he didn’t want us,” Castillo explained.
“…I have to tell you, I was really scared – worse when he let go of me and with that anger that showed in his eyes, he turned around and saw my cell phone on the table and he grabbed him and he slammed him on the floor. I couldn’t say anything, I was so scared. I feared for my life,” Castillo continued.