Coopera pay-backs bring relief, anger; 50% of all coop funds may never be returned

Feb 12, 2014

Yesterday’s announcement about a new phase of reimbursements to members of Coopera brought a mixture of relief and anger. Ecuador’s Superintendency of Popular and Solidarity Economy (SEPS) announced at a news conference that account holders with deposits ranging from $30,001 to $62,500 can collect most of their money at Cuenca branches of Banco del Pacifico until April 1.

There was a catch, however. Accounts with amounts ranging from $30,001 to $40,000 will be repaid only $30,000 and those with $40,001 to $62,500 will repaid at a 75% rate.
chl coop
Cuenca expat Lori Wilson said she and her husband are happy to get most of their money back. “This is a relief but the problem is that we’re not getting it all back. Losing 75% is a big hit.” She added: “I feel especially bad for some friends who will probably get nothing back.”

Attorney Gustavo Qutio, who represents unpaid Coopera members, said he was pleased for those who will receive partial repayment but complained about the government’s formula that penalizes large account holders.

The new phase of payouts go to 368 account holders and will amount to $10.4 million. It is believed that about 60 North American expats are in the group of 368.

SEPS also announced at Tuesday’s press conference that there would be fourth phase of payouts but gave no details on when it may come or the amounts to be paid back.

An expat who asked not to be identified agreed with Quito that the system is not fair. “I’m glad for the folks who are getting their money back but because I have a larger amount I can see that I’m being set up to be screwed. From what I uderstand, most the money in Coopera will never be repaid.” he said. “This whole thing has been political. About 99.5% of the members have been paid back and I’m sure the government is aware that those folks are voters.”

According to SEPS, 239 Coopera members remain unreimbursed, including about 50. According to Quito, the 239 represent more than 50% of all money invested in the coop.

Hugo Jacome, director SEPS, said that Coopera members in the phase three group can go to any Banco del Pacifico branch until April 1 with their cedulas or passports to collect their money. After April 1, they can collect funds at the Coopera headquarters in  San Joaquin.


Photo caption: Coopera investors gather for yesterday’s press conference; Photo credit: El Tiempo

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