Eastern Credit Union back in court for November election

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A former director of the Eastern Credit Union Co-operative Society is now challenging the legality of the virtual election of a new board last November and the High Court judge hearing the case will determine at the end of the trial in May whether the election results should be set aside.

Gerard Matthews filed a lawsuit for abuse of process and defamation by the credit union‘s board of directors after he was suspended as a director, although he was then presented for election on November 13, 2021, when the Cooperative Development Commissioner stepped in and threatened to go to court. an injunction to stop the process.

Matthews is seeking an injunction to overturn the results of the officer election as he said he had no time to successfully contest the election as he only learned on the day of the AGM, his name was on the list of candidates.

He said this late inclusion “can only be seen as a farce” and also complained that he was unlawfully removed from his position as a director and suffered reputational damage as a result.

On Friday, Judge Frank Seepersad, who handled the case, ruled that Matthews’ challenge was appropriate for an early trial on May 6.

At the end of the trial, he will determine whether the election results should be annulled.

Despite an objection from the credit union‘s attorneys that the court had no jurisdiction in the matter and that it was up to the commissioner to decide the dispute, Seepersad agreed with the position of its counsel, senior counsel Reginald Armour. , and held that the complaint did not relate to matters over which the Commissioner exercised his authority.

Given that the election has already taken place, the judge agreed that the case raised important issues, especially since the credit union controlled more than $2 billion in member assets and was a major player. in the country’s financial landscape.

“Questions regarding compliance with the co-operative’s constitution and the propriety with which business is conducted cannot be sidelined as member confidence is essential for continued financial stability.”

In November, the credit union executive capitulated to the commissioner’s instructions to override a veto that led to the suspension of three directors and their ineligibility in the November 13 election.

At that time, attorneys for Commissioner Charmaine McMillan wrote to the credit union executive to correct the alleged illegal actions after the directors’ names were removed as nominees.

The credit union subsequently included the names of the directors who were proposed for election.

McMillian’s attorneys had said she had received several complaints from administrators about the process by which several potential candidates were rendered ineligible to run or be nominated for office because of their alleged suspensions.

The Commissioner has also received complaints of alleged willful disregard of ECU regulations and policies; alleged abuse of process and authority and alleged usurpation of powers with respect to the appointment process.

The Commissioner has general powers to oversee the affairs of societies under the Co-operative Societies Act, and disputes are referred to this office for resolution.

It was argued that the alleged dismissal of a director was in direct breach of ECU’s statutes, adding that McMillan had been asked to investigate complaints of unethical conduct.

The commissioner had already opened a preliminary investigation into the complaints.

Matthews is represented by attorney Delroy Burris while the credit union is represented by attorney Lemuel Murphy.

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