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Shareholder concerned that changes to BLA rules could affect past agreements

BLA shareholder Cristo Primus was concerned about the impact that changes to the BLA rules on his investment.

BLA shareholder Cristo Primus was concerned about the impact that changes to the BLA rules on his investment.

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, April 11, IWN —The Financial Services Authority is scheduled to hold today — Thursday — its first meeting with shareholders of the Building & Loan Association (BLA) since it took over the building society on Feb. 1.

And shareholders are expected to put to the FSA some of the questions and concerns voiced at a meeting on April 2, where a committee of shareholders interfacing with the FSA reported on talks between both groups in March.

Among the questions expected to be asked is whether the changes to the BLA rules that the FSA announced on March 4 are retroactive.

Cristo Primus raised that question at the meeting of shareholders this month.

He said he and his wife has a special deposit on behalf of their son and at the end of January they applied to withdraw the money to send their son to university in August.

“Now, she made the application. No questions were asked; she signed. About a month later, she was called and told that he (the son) needs to sign,” Primus told the meeting, noting this his son was merely a child when the investment was made.

“… why should a child, who is now turning 18, sign something that he knew nothing about?” Primus told the meeting. He added that he has told his wife that their son will not sign, as requested by the BLA.

Among the changes to the rules at the BLA is one doubling to 180 days the notice period for the withdrawal of some deposits.

Primus said that he and his wife were being told that they must wait six months — instead of three — to withdraw their investment, although they gave notice for withdrawal ahead of the FSA take-over and before the announcement of the rule change.

“[This] means that it is a retroactive rule that they bought in, which means it cancelled the request which was accepted by the persons at Building & Loan at the time, [when] she was told that they the payback takes three months’ time,” Primus said.

“I think that is a serious issue and one for concern. I want to know whether or not that rule is retroactive or could be retroactive?” he told the shareholders meeting.

Meanwhile, Sylvia Sutherland, a member of the BLA shareholders committee, said that the FSA had told the committee that some deposits require one or both parties to sign for a withdrawal of investment.

“Normally, when you have shares or deposits that say and or, it is one person or the other [who signs]. But, given those persons who were asking for total withdrawal of their funds, and given the delicate situation which is happening now, they just want to make sure that at least the second person is aware that this is happening,” Sutherland said.

“And, it makes sense. They are just requiring that the other person signs to show knowledge — that they know what is happening,” she further stated.

But Jerry George, another member of the committee, spoke of situations where the other persons doesn’t need to know that their name is to an account or that a withdrawal is being made.

“I was in a situation exactly like that. I didn’t even know that my name was on it (the account). And, in the case of a child, something that was set up when the child was a minor, suppose there is a situation as exist now, where the child is still a minor?” George said.

I-Witness News contacted the FSA by telephone on April 4 for a comment and was asked to submit its question by email.

The FSA was yet to respond to the email up to today — April 11.

An FSA staff member told I-Witness News by telephone that the email had been forwarded to the relevant person for a response.

The meeting takes place today — Thursday, Aril 11 — at at the Peace Memorial Hall in Kingstown from 5 p.m.

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