Ariel Rosado Memorial Education Foundation in turmoil
The Ariel Rosado Memorial Education Foundation awarded an unprecedented 30 scholarships to various students yesterday, but while that might be a hallmark of their achievement, the organization is undergoing worrisome internal difficulties which have gone all the way to court, subsequently resulting in the freezing of its accounts.
The foundation’s president, Dr. Alvaro Rosado, father of the late cyclist Ariel Rosado, is currently in a legal battle with former treasurer, Bruce Sanchez, allegedly because of conflicting ideas which caused Sanchez, one of the signatories, to refuse to sign the foundation’s checks.
Yesterday, Rosado gave his side of the story, reiterating that the main purpose of The Ariel Rosado Foundation is to provide funding for educational scholarships and sporting activities to encourage Belizean youths to develop healthy minds in healthy bodies; however, he had not been seeing eye-to-eye with Sanchez.
He said, “We have been having problems with Mr. Sanchez. Apparently, what their idea was about the foundation was not our idea. We tried to work it out for a year and a half. They have decided to boycott the foundation, so we have had to make a claim in court, asking them to free up the bank account. In the meantime, the foundation has found other ways to provide money to pay for the scholarships that we’re giving.
“But at this point in time, there is a bank account that was frozen with the majority of the money that we have collected so far. The fact is that my wife and I were not very savvy about foundations or organizations of this sort. Mr. Sanchez approached us and offered to help us to organize a ride. We didn’t know anything about rides but it’s attractive because it’s Ariel’s sport.
“But after the ride came about, the Sanchezes then decided that they were not happy about how the funds were being used. The funds were being used to provide scholarships, that is what we do with the funds, but apparently, there were some differences about how the money should be used and because we had invited them [Sanchez and his wife] to be signatories to the bank account we had set up, so that it would be one of the Sanchezes and one of the Rosados, just to make sure that everything was clear and transparent.
“The Sanchezes then decided to hold us ransom and refused to sign checks. There was no formal approach from the Sanchezes as to how to use the money. They just decided that they would not be signing the cheques until I decided to go along with whatever they wanted.
“At the present, we have about $44,000 in the bank account that is frozen. My wife and I have been using personal funds to try to continue the work of the foundation because we are very confident that there will be a resolution very soon.”
Dr. Rosado says, before taking the matter to the courts, he tried everything to find a solution, but today, Sanchez fired back via a press release through his attorney, Audrey Matura-Shepherd.
In an attempt to “set the record straight”, the release said that “Bruce Sanchez Sr. and Jr. wish to set the record straight about the comments of Dr. Alvaro Rosado in relation to the funds of the Ariel Rosado Memorial Education Foundation and their involvement with said foundation.”
First off, the Sanchezes claim that the Foundation was their idea: “The Sanchezes were the brainchild behind the formalization of the Foundation and had approached the Rosados with the idea since they were very close and fully acquainted with Ariel Rosado through his active involvements with the world of cycling.”
The release claims that indeed the foundation was set up to provide educational opportunities to less fortunate Belizeans, but claims that “Drs. Alvaro and Dorla Rosado … signed checks … contrary to the terms set out at the bank, which required at all times that neither the Sanchezes nor the Rosados can sign cheques of their own.”
“The main fund-raiser was a bike ride, which Bruce Bike Shop helped to sponsor and coordinate,” said the release, which added that “The Rosados have taken the matter to court and the Sanchez have been forced to produce the cheques and make known the irregularities committed by the Rosados and is willing to share those cheques with the public now that the matter has been placed in the public domain.
The release goes on to state that after its main fundraiser was held, “problems arose… prompting the Sanchez’s to ask that proper guidelines on the operation of the Foundation be written up, which has still not been done up to date.”
Five of the issues that the Sanchezes apparently had issues with were listed, including “request to sign checks made out to the name of Alvaro Rosado without proper documentation for its use and purpose”, among others.
The release also accuses the Rosados of misappropriating over $13,000 in checks, and then starting a “new entity emulating the Foundation and collecting monies under that name, passing off as though it is the Ariel Rosado Foundation, unknown to donors.”
The Sanchezes’ release declared that they “remained quiet about the situation so as not to taint the memory of Ariel Rosado… however, the failure of Dr. Alvaro Rosado to restrain his comments and to tell the full story has forced the Sanchezes to break their silence, much to this regret.”
The matter is now in the courts. The Sanchezes have commented thus: “The Sanchezes are satisfied that there is an interim court order that has removed the Rosados as signatories to the account, as well as the Sanchezes, who are satisfied that there are now two trustees appointed to manage the bank account.
“Further, the court has ordered that for the first time the trust deed that should guide the conduct of the Foundation as a Trust be written up by the Trustees and returned to court for the Court’s approval.
“That same order has asked that there be no competing interest against the Foundation, thus, the Rosados are no longer able to collect funds from the public and place it in The Ariel Rosado Scholarship Fund, and not the Foundation, as they have been doing for over a year.”