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Hundreds of Coop Societies struck off

Labour Minister, Dr.Nan Kishore Gopaul

More than 200 Cooperative Societies have been struck off the register and blocked from transacting business in a move aimed at cleaning up the list for the first time in 10 years, Labour Minister Dr. Nankishore Gopaul said Sunday.

“We find that a number of those that have been listed there have not been in compliance for the last decade or so and some have not been functioning and so we decided that in order to tidy things we should strike them off,” he told Demerara Waves.

He said government used provisions in the Cooperative Societies Act and the Anti Money Laundering Act to erase those that have failed to hold meetings, audit their accounts submit reports and elect office bearers. The Labour Minister recalled that the Cooperative Societies were told one year ago that they needed to have their accounts audited at least up to 2011.

Under the hand of the Labour Ministry’s, Chief Cooperative Development Officer, Carol Valz, the names of 212 Cooperative Societies were published in Sunday’s newspapers. She said the cancellation would take effect from May 18, 2014 but could be appealed to Gopaul. “With effect of the date of cancellation, no one is authorized to transact any business on behalf of the societies unless ordered to do so by the Chief Cooperative Development Officer via a public notice,” she said.

Gopaul said Section 23(1) of the AML/CFT was also used to weed out those errant societies that had been formally asked to put their house in order. “The Anti Money Laundering Act is not only for financial institutions and individuals but also for Coops and Friendly Societies because money can be funnelled through these organisations,” he said.

The AML/CFT empowers the supervisory authority, any regulatory authority or competent disciplinary authority that discovers a breach of the obligations by a reporting entity it supervises to, among other things, recommend that the reporting entity’s licence be suspended, restricted or withdrawn.

Under the Cooperative Societies Act, now that the societies have been cancelled and if no appeal is lodged and approved the Minister can further order the seizure of books and documents and the protection of the assets of the society.