Top Coopera brass found guilty of embezzlement
Following four hours of deliberation, the Second Criminal Trial Court in Cuenca found seven managers and officers of Coopera guilty of embezzlement. Prosecutors have asked the court to impose the maximum 12-year prison sentence on the group.
Among those found guilty are Coopera general manager Rodrigo Aucay, chief financial officer Aldo Santiago Calle and auditor Raúl Efraín Carpio.
Attorneys for those convicted say they will appeal. A request for one-year sentences in exchange for admissions of guilt was rejected by the court.
Coopera, a financial cooperative with more than 110,000 members, was closed in June 2013 after the government discovered bookkeeping irregularities and a cash shortfall of more than $50 milloin. Subsequently, the defendants were charged with money laundering and embezzlement.
To date, more than 99.5% of Coopera members have been repaided but those who have not, including about 30 North American expats, are the largest account holders.
Attorney for the unpaid Coopera members says he is satisfied with the verdict but continues to be concerned that his clients will not get their money back. He believes that the guilty may have concealed assets that should go to his clients.