After being accused of gross financial mismanagement by one of its co-founders yesterday, Dr. Alvaro Rosado, president of the Ariel Rosado Memorial Education Foundation, flanked by the entire board of directors of the foundation, organized a press conference at the University of the West Indies (UWI) campus today to make clarifications in response to the claims of misappropriation made by the foundation’s former treasurer, Bruce Sanchez, Sr.
Sanchez, Sr., who staged his own press conference yesterday, Thursday, was appointed vice president of the foundation’s board of directors, and acted as a co-signatory for the foundation’s cheques, but he began boycotting the foundation by refusing to sign the cheques after he claimed that he noticed improprieties within the structure of the foundation in the handling of its finances.
Sanchez, Sr. said, “It’s over $13,000 in cheques that either he alone signed, his wife alone, or both of them, excluding us, contrary to what the bank agreement said, which we have here. We weren’t aware of it [the cheques]; we, means me and my son, weren’t aware of it.
“The reason why we weren’t aware of it was because we trust them and we realize the statements were going to them, the Rosados, so we didn’t know, but we suspected something was wrong. So I and my son, in a meeting, decided to be treasurer.
“When we became treasurer we got everything, including the cancelled cheques, then we realized really what was going on. So we decided not to continue [signing checks] because of the behavior of the Rosados, so what we did is that we kept these cheques and we sent back what we wanted. These are original cheques from the bank that we held. Some of these cheques are made out to the bookstore; some of these cheques are made out to Government; some of these cheques are made out to some schools.
“I also want to show you two special cheques beside those ones; one of them made out to [Dr. Rosado] himself. He and his wife signed it, put it in his name, reversed it and put it into his bank account.”
In response, Dr. Rosado called a press conference to clear his name, and with the help of some board members today, he countered the accusations and explained the origin and purpose of the cheques to which Sanchez, Sr. was referring.
Rosado stated: “The cheque that Mr. Sanchez showed, if I remembered right, he showed two cheques; one cheque was made out to Miss Shelly Bradley. Ms. Shelly Bradley is the secretary for the Belize Sailing Association, and we were required to get life jackets for the sailors that are on our scholarships.
“Ms. Bradley, because of her knowledge of sailing, agreed to purchase the life jackets for us. When I took the cheque to the Sanchezes for her to get the jackets the Friday for the sailing session on Saturday, Mr. Sanchez refused to sign the cheque.
“I gave Ms. Bradley my personal cheque for $252 so that she could purchase life jackets. After, we were able to get a foundation cheque signed, so I took the cheque to Ms. Bradley, who endorsed it, and I deposited it into my account to replace the monies that I have given them.
“The second cheque that Mr. Sanchez showed was in the amount of $500. That is in fact only one of five such cheques that were written over the 18 months. The five cheques were all for $500 each. All were made out to Alvaro Rosado; they were all approved by the board for the replenishment for the petty cash account that I manage. That petty cash account is to use for everyday expenses; computer cartridges, paper, whatever small items we need to buy.”
According to Rosado, he was allowed to sign cheques in his name because he and his wife had approached the bank beforehand.
“When we met, the Board instructed me to go to the bank and get the signatories changed so that we could have the current secretary and treasurer replaced – the Sanchezes, who had abandoned the foundation. I went to the bank and I presented the papers, asked for the forms, and presented the forms. I was informed that the Sanchezes had to sign for them to be taken off, but they could not be taken off because the board was not an incorporated body.
“So they, and the way it was set up, they had to sign that they would come off. I told the bank that they would not sign this because we are not on good terms, and the bank manager said, ‘Well, I’m sorry, but you really have to get it signed.’
“I then told the bank manager, ‘Well, if that’s the problem, then my wife will just sign a check and take all the money out of the bank, and open another account.
“And the bank manager said, ‘You have been signing checks with your wife?’ and I said, ‘Yes we have, for the last year,’ and she said, ‘Well that is something that should not have happened, and I must tell you that we will not honor any other checks that come that way.’
“So we did not get into any trouble with the bank; we approached the bank”, Rosado explained.
In his press conference, Sanchez, Sr. also accused the Rosados of starting “a new entity emulating the Foundation and collecting monies under that name, passing off as though it is the Ariel Rosado Memorial Foundation, unknown to donors,” as a means of circumventing the proper usage of the funds solicited for scholarships.
However, Sal Awe, the Foundation’s secretary, clarified that an entity known as the Ariel Rosado Scholarship Fund was indeed created, but it was actually to continue the work of the Foundation after it had been crippled by the Sanchezes’ refusal to sign cheques.
Awe said, “Administratively, the work of the foundation had to continue, with a situation where the account that was being used to run the everyday expenses was out of our reach. The bank had decided to make sure that no other cheques were being written under the name of the Foundation. We still had scholarships to pay for, expenses for the ride, so the Board made a decision to open a secondary account in a different bank and got the same sort of arrangement where it wouldn’t be both Rosados signing; it had to be one Rosado, or either myself or Mr. Swift that would sign on those cheques, and we continued the work of the foundation.
“Administratively, if two of the four signatories to the original account were no longer signing, it was either the organization folds, or we do what have to do so that the work could continue, and that is essentially what was done.”
“I have been a member of this organization for the last two years, and I’ve been a member of the board of directors for last year. The board meets on a regular basis and is responsible for the overall planning, organization and also the financial oversight for the organization. All expenses are brought before the board; it goes through a vetting process and at the end, we either agree or disagree on making payments for the expenses. This is by no means a situation where there is no board and all decisions are made by the Rosados. Any assertion to that respect is not based on fact”, Awe added.
To prove their case, the Rosado family has made available receipts and other financial records pertaining to the charitable trust.
After the dispute between the Sanchez and Rosado families unfolded internally, the foundation had to find other means of doing business, until the bank blocked them altogether, and so, Rosado and the Board had been forced to take the Sanchezes to court.
Therefore, the matter remains before the court, and while it was intended that it would have been kept under the radar, the issue has gone public, much to the dismay of the other board members, since the foundation depends greatly on funds which are donated by business organizations and the wider public to propel its charity work.
Founding board member, Perry Gibson, told us, however, that the matter in no way affects the work of the organization.
“The work goes on; the recipients continue to receive the much-needed aid, because I mean, the scholarships that have been provided, I think it’s over 30 at this point, so that speaks for itself. That is all they do – providing needy people with assistance”, he stated.
In any event, the Board members have sworn that all financial transactions that take place within the organization is vetted by an independent firm, and that moreover, the Board stands fully behind the decisions of Dr. Rosado, who created the foundation with a purpose of goodwill and honorable intentions in the memory of his son, the late cyclist, Ariel Rosado.