CUENCA DIGESTCoopera liquidation to proceed without member participation; New planetarium drawing capacity crowds

Nov 5, 2013

The government says it will proceed with with liquidation of assets of the failed financial cooperative Coopera without the participation of 667 unpaid investors, including 120 North American expats.
chl coop
Diego Aguilar, liquidator for the Superintendency Economía Popular y Solidaria (SEPS), said that he wanted the investors involved but they refused. “I wanted their help in this process but they are not interested,” he said.

Representatives for investors say they have been misled by SEPS and were not included in earlier decisions regarding the closure and liquidation of Coopera. “We have been lied to and ignored,” said Gustavo Quito, an attorney for unpaid investors. “Now they want us to legitimize what they have done and we refuse.” Quito has filed a law suit against the government, charging that oversight negligence led to the Coopera’s collapse.

Aguilar says he hopes to recoup about $8 million in the liquidation, $6 from real estate and $2 million from equipment and furniture.

The property to be sold includes financial services offices, and agricultural land and haciendas in Azuay, El Oro and Guayas provinces. Aguilar announced the termination of 56 employees last Thursday, leaving about 280 to manage and operate the food markets, hostals and restaurants that SEPS says will continue to operate.

SEPS attempted to organize a board of unpaid coop members and other creditors in August, September and October, but were unsuccessful on all three occasions. In the last attempt, Octover 29, Aguilar had to be escorted from the the meeting following a chorus of boos and cat calls from the audience.

Although more than 99% of Coopera’s 116,000 account holders have been repaid, accounts held by the 670 unpaid members account for almost 70% of total coop investments. Estimates are that the 667 members are owed about $55 milllion. Carlos Heredia, representative for unpaid expat investors, says expats are owed about $20 million.

Heredia says he is organizing meetings with U.S. government officials to help U.S. citizens recoup their money.

Coopera was closed by the government on June 12 following the arrest of top management on money laudering and embezzlement charges.

Cuenca’s new planetarium draws ‘wows’

Cuenca’s new planetarium that opened last week in Parque de la Madra is drawing rave reviews.

chl planetariumRonnie James, a 14-year-old expat from Indiana, says the planetarium is better than the one he visited in Indianapolis. “That one was bigger but the show wasn’t nearly as good as here. This is awesome.”

The 540 square meter planetarium on Av. Florencia Astudillo, built in the likeness of the planet Saturn, has entertained capacity crowds of 800 people each day since it opened Friday.

The facility has state of the art equipment purchased from a German company, according to Diego Carrasco, director of Culture of the Municipality. “This is the most up-to-date planetarium in South America right now,” he said.

The planetarium is open from Tuesday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Entry is free.

Photo captions: Coopera members protest in Parque Calderon; New planetarium in Parque de la Madre.

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