Uncertainty looms over hosting of GPSCCU Special General Meeting despite court order

Uncertainty is looming at the Guyana Public Service Co-operative Credit Union (GPSCCU) over the holding of a Special General Meeting (SGM) which High Court Judge Navindra Singh ordered has to be held no later than Monday, October 24.
The imminent SGM is expected to see the election of a new executive. In a ruling handed down last month in an application filed by three members of the GPSCCU—Mehalai Mc Almont, Keith Marks, and Natasha Durant-Clements—Justice Singh, among other things, declared that Trevor Benn and Patrick Mentore were the credit union’s duly elected Chairman and Vice Chairman, respectively, and that the notice informing of the demand for the SGM, which had been previously set for June, had been lawfully issued.
A notice for the holding of the SGM was recently issued in the daily newspapers by the Chairperson of the credit union’s Committee of Management (CoM), Karen Vansluytman-Corbin.
“Pursuant to the Co-operatives Societies Act, Cap 88:01, Regulation 16, Notice is hereby given that a Special General Meeting of Members of the Guyana Public Service Co-operative Credit Union Ltd… will be held on Monday, October 24, 2022, in the auditorium of the new Central High School, Princes Street, Georgetown, Guyana at 8:00hrs,” it reads.
But with a week away, there has been no information concerning plans for the holding of the SGM, including the meeting’s agenda and the location of polling places, according to a group of candidates headed by former Chairman Benn, who are contesting the elections.
During a press conference on Monday, “Team Trevor Benn’s” member Attorney-at-Law Christopher Thompson said that the GPSCCU membership of over 20,000 has been kept in the dark about several things that are pertinent to the staging of the SGM.
Pursuant to the court order, Mc Almont, Marks, and Durant-Clements, who are part of a group of “Concerned Members” of the GPSCCU, penned a letter to the credit union’s Chairwoman requesting details about the plans for the SGM.
That letter, among other things, requested the following: details of the plans and arrangements being put in place pursuant to the Judge’s ruling, confirmation that approval has been granted for the place determined as the venue for the SGM, that the service provider has been contacted and all arrangements have been put in place for the online participation of the members of the SGM, and that adequate provisions have been made to ensure the maximum notice and information of all members.
Despite two failed attempts last week, they were able to serve the letter dated October 14 on Vansluytman-Corbin on Monday.
“I was the member who approached the credit union on October 14 to deliver the letter… I went to the security officer who was there; she called the CEO to say that [I] was there and she [the CEO] said that she was in a meeting and so she would not be able to come and collect any letter. I waited until the meeting was over and I went back and they said to me that it is after work time and we should return with the letter on Monday,” Beverly De John, a member of “Team Trevor Benn” told the media conference.
Mentore said he attempted to deliver the letter on October 15 but the Chairwoman refused to accept it. He said he made another attempt on Monday and was successful.
“Team Trevor Benn” has vowed that they will be “going back to court” if the Special General Meeting is not held at a suitable time.
While Thompson, who was recently sacked by the CoM as the credit union’s in-house lawyer said he rather suspects this is the first time the court has sanctioned an SGM, he added, “I would want to believe that the current Committee of Management may be unaware of their liability for contempt of court proceedings if this court order is not followed to the letter…”
According to him, this is not a regular members’ sanctioned meeting but rather a direct order of the court that has to be complied with.
Failure to adhere to the order of a court, he pointed out, will result in contempt of court proceedings being initiated against the current Committee of Management.
Benn, on the other hand, called out the CoM for disregarding the court’s order, while noting that the SGM is critical toward safeguarding the future of the financial institution.
He said, “This is bigger than Trevor Benn, this is not about Trevor Benn.
This is about poor people and their prosperity. The Guyana Public Service Co-operative Credit Union is there to support and encourage and help ordinary people who have no other source or ability to get loans at another place. Most of them get turned down by private sector organisations and this is why we are fighting to ensure that this facility remains viable.”