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KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Feb. 14, IWN – A member of the Building and Loan Association (BLA) has emphasised shareholders’ ownership of the embattled building society, being temporarily managed by the Financial Services Authority since Feb. 1.

“We are owners of the association. We are not partners in anything,” Jeannie Ollivierre said at a press conference Wednesday, where she, Junior Bacchus and Cools Vanloo, all BLA members, announced a meeting of BLA shareholders for next Thursday.

“…we, as members, have invested our powers, we have given authority to a board to work on our behalf. … Now, we have a situation where the board is dismantled and, as a member, I have no one to turn to,” Ollivierre said.

When the FSA took over management and control of the BLA, it disbanded the board of directors and the chief executive officer.

“I have vested my power in the board. And, according to the laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, if they are dismantled, and since they are dissolved, I have a right to ask questions and I have a right to answers.

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“It is in light of this that, as a member, as a shareholder, I have reached out to Cools Vanloo and to Junior Bacchus.

She said that some years ago, she, Bacchus and Vanloo were among members of a “similar organisation” who “had concerns”.

“We … were named as a group to address the situation in that organisation,” Ollivierre said.

Meanwhile, Vanloo told the press conference that the trio “are here to see what we can do to keep the organisation going”.

“This organisation, for over 70 years, has served generations of Vincentians. I have done over 35 years on its membership and I can tell you this organisation has gone through a number of crises and we have dealt with them over the years and the organisation is a resilient organisation.

“Unfortunately, certain things have not gone as they should, and we believe that that situation can be corrected and, essentially, what we are trying to do is to engage the appropriate authorities at this time through consultation with our membership… and to get from the members their concerns as members and also to get from them what the possible directions might be,” he said in reference to the planned meeting.

Vanloo said they want to see the BLA continue to serve further generations of Vincentians.

“We would hope that the authorities will be responsive to our engagements. We might not want to get into a lot of specifics here because we cannot speak ahead of those persons who would attend the meeting and from whom we will get our direction.

“So, we look forward to persons turning up. And, our sole cause at this particular point … is for the survival of this organisation, for its growth and its further development and services to community of Vincentians, not only in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but the diaspora, and its 20,000 members,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bacchus said the meeting will be an opportunity for BLA shareholders to vent their frustration.

“[L]et us discuss [in] what direction we want to take this association and let us put together a plan to engage the relevant authorities to restore confidence, to save the Building & Loan Association.

“We cannot sit idly by and allow Building & Loan to collapse. I don’t know what my grandchildren will think of me…” he said.