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Despite irregularities, CU vote stands

Despite reports of voter tampering and an RCMP investigation connected to last week's credit union merger vote at Synergy Credit Union, the results stand.

Despite reports of voter tampering and an RCMP investigation connected to last week's credit union merger vote at Synergy Credit Union, the results stand.

That is the word from Synergy CEO Les Messmer, who says the credit union accepts the vote result that scuttled the proposed merger last week. Any possible irregularities would have made no difference in the outcome, he said.

As a result, there will not be a merger of Lloydminster-based Synergy Credit Union with Regina-based Conexus and with Innovation Credit Union, based in the Battlefords and Swift Current.

"The tampering would not have affected the results because it would have required more than that number of votes to cause a different decision from our members," said Messmer. Synergy members gave only 60.3 per cent approval to the merger at the meetings held last week - well short of the majority needed to approve the merger.

The proposed merger of Innovation, Conexus and Synergy Credit Union needed to clear a 75 per cent majority from each credit union's members at membership. Conexus and Innovation both achieved that level of support from its members, but the merger needed all three individual credit unions reaching that mark to go ahead.

"Obviously, our board is disappointed in those results," Messmer said Wednesday in speaking to the Regional Optimist. He said all three credit unions "felt they had a very solid proposal to take to our members."

Controversy swirled around the Synergy vote after it was learned that members had been receiving questionable phone calls in advance of the vote, telling them they didn't need to show up at the vote meetings if they were in favour of the merger.

Six vote meetings were scheduled by Synergy, Messmer said. After the first couple of meetings, Messmer said it came to light "that some of our members had been contacted to say that if they were coming out to vote yes, they did not need to show up - their vote would be counted automatically."

That information was not correct, Messmer said. Members needed to show up regardless of which way they wanted to vote.

Legal counsel advised the credit union to contact the RCMP and report the matter, and in turn report it to the Credit Union Deposit Guarantee Corporation (CUDGC) and the Registrar of Credit Unions office.

All of that was done, Messmer said. As well, they disclosed the incidents to their other members at the remaining meetings.

There were no further incidents, Messmer said.

"We went through the rest of the process, and we never really heard anything more about it," said Messmer, who said the irregularities were not enough to sway the final outcome.

The Synergy CEO also confirmed there has been further dialogue with CUDGC and the Registrar of Credit Unions office to clarify from all parties' perspectives that "this matter is over. We accept the results of our members' votes and we are back to business as usual."

It is also back to business as usual for the other credit unions, who will continue on as independent entities for the foreseeable future.

Whether that will remain the case for the long-term remains to be seen, as Innovation board president Gord Lightfoot said following last week's vote "the status quo really isn't a long-term option of any of us."