Coopera member arrested near Presidential interview

Jan 11, 2014

A member of Coopera, the failed Cuenca financial cooperative, was arrested Tuesday when he attempted to get the attention of President Rafael Correa. Hernán Romulo was charged with “rebellion” and insulting Minister of Social Inclusion Doris Solís.
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Police say Romulo shouted insults and threats through a megaphone outside the Telerama television studios in Cuenca, where Correa was being interviewed in addition to making inappropriate comments to Solís.

Judge Simon Valdivieso said Romulo posed a threat to security and ordered that he not leave the country and appear for court hearings every Thursday until the case is resolved.

According to attorney Gustavo Quito, Romulo’s intent was to get the attention of the president to arrange a meeting to discuss the government’s handling of the Coopera closure and liquidation. Romulo and his sister are among those who have not been repaid since Coopera was closed in June. According to sources, 60% to 70% of funds on deposit at Coopera have not been repaid to depositors.

Quito said that Romulo did not insult the minister or endanger the president and that the criminal charge unfair. “The real criminals are the people who looted Coopera,” Quito said. “And there are serious ethical questions of how the closure and liquidation has been handled. My client is a victim, not a criminal, and he only wanted to get answers about what happened to his money.”

The government shut down Coopera when the general manager, chief financial officer and auditor were arrested on money laundering and embezzlement charges. Federal and local law enforcement said that the three had been involved with Coopera board of director members in sending money through Venezuelan banks in a multi-million-dollar laundering scheme.

Correa was in town to campaign for members of his Pais party running in the February elections.

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Photo caption: President Rafael Correa during a television interview in Cuenca on Tuesday.

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