A third arrest has been made in the money laundering case against the financial cooperative Coopera, this one of the general manager. Rodrigo Aucay was arrested at the Quito airport when he arrived on a flight from the Dominican Republic, where he was reportedly attending a meeting.
Coopera’s chief financial officer Aldo Santiago Calle and auditor Raúl Efraín Carpio were arrested last weekend and are being held in Cuenca’s Rebilitation Center for Men.
Federal and provincial authorities say that $31 million in 16 Coopera accounts are being investigated for “unusual movements” in transfers between Ecuador and Venezuela.
Authorities and interim Coopera management report that customer funds were not involved in the alleged laundering and that all accounts are secure. They said all Coopera outlets, including organic food markets, are operating normally.
On Tuesday, long lines formed at several Coopera offices in Cuenca, Guayaquil and in other commnunties, as customers attempted to withdraw money. Although on Monday officials had limited withdrawals to $5,000, the amount was lowered to $3,000 on Tuesday.
Customers mingled with about 10 police officers at Coopera headquarters in San Joaquin Tuesday morning, and police were present in several other Coopera locations although no major disorder was reported. Customers were not allowed to go upstairs to administrative offices.
Two Cuenca expats with certificates of deposit with Coopera reported to Cuenca High Life Tuesday afternoon that they were unable to talk to financial officers about their accounts and were advised to return another day.
Residents warned about high water
City officials are warning residents to stay away from the city’s rivers, which are near flood level in some areas.
According to the National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology (INAMHI), Cuenca has received more than 10 centimeters (four inches) of rain in the past seven days and more is predicted.
Last weekend, a child and an elderly man drowned in the swollen rivers.
According to the Cuenca civil Guard and Fire Brigade, the Tomebamba and Yanuncay Rivers are carrying 72 cubic meters of water per second, compared to the normal rate of five to six.
The INAMHI says the wet weather may continue for another one to two weeks before the “dry season” begins. June through September are traditionally the driest months of the year in Cuenca.
Photo captions: Customers at Cuenca Coopera office (credit: El Tiempo); and high water on the Rio Tomebamba