Charles Thompson
Charles Thompson

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Feb. 24, IWN – Much damage has been done by politicians using the Building & Loan Association as a football but this is no reason for hostility towards the Financial Services Authority, a BLA shareholder has said.

“I am really nervous about the anti-FSA sentiments that are being expressed,” Charles Thompson told a meeting of BLA shareholders in Kingstown on Thursday

The meeting elected Thompson, who is based in Canada, as consultant to the committee they elected that day and a contact person for Vincentians in the diaspora.

Read also: BLA shareholders appoint committee

The FSA took over the BLA on Feb. 1, saying it wanted to protect the interest of all stakeholders, after a run triggered by a letter in a newspaper expressing concerns about the BLA’s financial health.

“In my opinion, and in every jurisdiction where you have financial institutions, you have governing body that regulate these financial institutions,” Thompson said.

“They have to act and they do act in the best interest of the investors. And I would hope that the FSA, in intervening in this situation, is acting in the best interest of the shareholders,” he further said in an open forum ahead of his election to the committee, which was mandated to seek an audience with the FSA to discuss possible synergies.

Thompson told the meeting, which was attended 200 persons — 1 per cent of the BLA’s 20,000 members — that it “cannot ignore the bad situation that has been prompted by the mismanagement that had taken place.

“So, we cannot ignore that and jump on the FSA. … What we want to do is to ensure the long-term viability of the Building & Loan Association,” he said as he expressed support for earlier proposals of a committee to hold talks with the FSA and a need for improved public relations by the FSA.

Sylvia Sutherland.
Sylvia Sutherland.

“I think a lot of damages had been done abroad by the politicians getting involved and using the Association as a football. We should ask them to stop that and have some qualified … public relations group that can go out there and say the Association is still here, we are trying our best, we are working with the FSA …

“But I think we need to step back a little bit and don’t be hostile to the FSA. Because, that, I believe, is a wrong message,” Thompson said.

Meanwhile, Sylvia Sutherland expressed similar sentiments, telling fellow shareholders that one of the points of the meeting was to instil confidence in shareholders and to encourage them not to withdraw their investments.

She said that by withdrawing their monies, depositors can break the association and in so doing “break their own backs”.

“We just have to do what other persons are saying, let’s work along with the FSA. … Let’s not be hostile. The damage is done; we have to work with the FSA. If we don’t, we can’t do anything,” said Sutherland during the open session, ahead of her election to the committee.