Cummings: Investigations will show the truth

File photo: Foster Cummings
File photo: Foster Cummings

MINISTER of Youth Service and National Development Foster Cummings was confident police investigations will show all was above board regarding deposits into his Venture Credit Union account on behalf of his wife's business.

"If people are interested in the truth, the investigations taking place will substantiate the truth. It was a straightforward transaction, done before I became a minister."

Newsday asked if attorneys representing him had objected to a police production order seeking details of his account.

Cummings replied, "There was never any production order served on me. The production orders were served on the company and the company had their own separate legal representation."

He had no issue with the police investigating. "I'm very clear on that. If agencies of the State require to investigate a matter, that is the system. An investigation is just that, an investigation."

Newsday asked why payments to a company went into his account after he had left.

"This loan transaction pre-dated my appointment as a government minister. It is unfortunate that the time line is not being addressed properly.

"I was the CEO of this group and conducted this loan transaction on behalf of the group with the credit union."

Cummings said the loan was paid off by the payments from various agencies.

"This is in fact a business loan that was conducted with the credit union on behalf of the business, because businesses cannot be a member of the credit union. It is either an individual or another credit union.

"Credit unions do grant business loans but it is done through a principal or the main executive of the company."

Cummings said it was very straightforward. He said it was a business loan with the credit union, so funds then were assigned directly to the credit union.

"If as CEO of a company, I negotiate a business transaction and that business loan is properly serviced - the business functioned properly and the loan was serviced and paid off and then after I move on to enter politics and become an elected MP, why are people reporting matters as though now happening?"

Recalling several people successfully moving from business into politics to serve their country, he said, "Business persons should not be attacked because they were successful businessmen."

He related, "This is a loan that was negotiated back in 2017 and was paid off in 2020. The loan was serviced by contractual arrangement which is that the proceeds from the business - the three companies - were assigned directly to the credit union to service the loan, as a condition of the grant of the loan."

Asked if the loan repayments should instead have gone into a company account not his, he said, "The credit union will grant the loan to the person who was running the business. It would have granted it as a small business loan. It was not a personal loan. It's a small business loan."

Newsday spoke to Joseph Remy, president of the Co-operative Credit Union League of Trinidad and Tobago, without referring to any particular individual's matter.

Asked in multimillion dollar sums were within the ambit of credit unions, he said the Co-operative Societies Act did not limit the amount of funds one may have in a credit union, once not exceeding a certain percentage of the credit union's capital.

Saying some credit unions have $1 billion in assets, he said large transactions might not be unusual. "It is not the norm in all credit unions, but it is not unusual."

Newsday asked about credit union guidelines to maintain a distinction between personal and business funds.

"The act makes provision for individual members. It doesn't make provision for a company to be a member of a credit union unless the company is a co-operative."

However he noted challenges when a small proprietor grew into a small business.

"Let's say an individual, a sole trader, is a member and he borrowed for small business development purposes which credit unions are allowed to do.

"When the business starts to mushroom, he can't have the business as a member because the law doesn't provide for that. Individuals could remain as a member."

Remy said credit unions require a disclosure of source of funds.

"We subscribe to the laws relative to source of funds and those things.

"Credit unions must be satisfied with respect to the source of funds. We follow the rules as laid down in the regulations and law."


"Cummings: Investigations will show the truth"

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