Two years after the financial cooperative Coopera was shut down by the government, eight investors have not received any of their money back and they could be in trouble with the law.
Coopera was closed in June 2013, after several managers and officers of the coop were arrested on charges of money laundering and embezzlement. The coop had more than 20,000 members, including about 200 expats.
Members with active accounts have received some or all or their money back with the exception of eight members with accounts of more than $100,000. The government says that those members have not proven the source of their deposits and are being investigated to determined if they received the money came from illegal activities.
Diego Aguilar, Coopera’s government-appointed liquidator says that Ecuador’s Internal Revenue Service and the national police’s Financial Analysis Crime Unit are handling the investigation.
According Aguilar, the eight members have not provided the documentation justifying the source of the funds. “This must be done to prove that the money came from legal sources,” he said.
An attorney for the eight members, Gustavo Quito, said he is awaiting a report from the investigation but says he believes it is politically motivated. “This is adding insult to injury,” he said. “These people have waiting for two years while most members have been repaid, and they have not received a single cent. I believe it is a stalling tactic by the government.”
Quito is pursuing legal action against the government through Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
Most of the Coopera officials arrested in 2013 have been convicted and are currently serving prison sentences.