It is my opinion that Meridian Credit, Ontario’s largest Credit Union had and still has a responsibility to inform their Members and the Marketplace of an undisclosed back-office system challenge.
The system issue went undetected for 9 years and upon recognizing the system issue mistakes, Meridian chose not to inform their Membership.
It is my opinion that Meridian Credit Union had and still has a corporate responsibility to inform their Membership of the following;
The facts behind a 9-year back-office system challenge.
What they found and what they tried to fix.
And the potential impacts of those mistakes on their members financial well being and Account Information and Tax information.
I also believe that Meridian Credit Union has an obligation to inform their members that Meridian was investigated by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO), the newly formed Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) and is currently under investigation by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. (OPC)
As per the case file information obtain from the Freedom of Information Office, when FSCO approached Meridian regarding incorrect Account Holder Statement information, Meridian’s Executive response was;
“In addition, we advise that we have sought external legal counsel in this matter. Our solicitor advises that it is a well-established principle in banking law that statements of account are not conclusive evidence of the facts set out in them.”
After further investigation FSCO discovered that not only did Meridian not disclose that the mistakes created incorrect Account Holder statement information, the mistakes also produced incorrect Revenue Canada T5 tax return information for a 9-year period.
After an exhaustive three-year investigation, the Meridian Board and Executive Leadership team finally reluctantly admitted to the Executive Vice President of Legal and Enforcement of the FSRA that they did not inform their members of the 9-year system challenge and disclosed the following details of the mistakes.
“technical limitations in our computer banking system at that time meant that products held under joint accounts had to be manually updated with a ‘joint’ benefit code at the time of opening. Because this step was “manual”, there was an obvious risk of human error. If the banking system was not updated to “joint” at the product level in any given case, the system code would be inconsistent with the legal reality that the member had specifically expressed an intention that the new product be held jointly with another person or other persons. At year end, when the T5s were issued, the automated process drew the necessary database information from the product code rather than the Member account. Therefore, if in a given case the manual product code update was not done at the opening stage, our banking system would have issued the T5 in the primary account holder’s name only. This explains why, in some cases, the Box 23 would include a 1 rather than a 2 for Recipient Type.”
The above Meridian Executive statement came three years later and was a significantly different acknowledgement then their original statement to the Regulator.
Currently the OPC is investigating Meridian under the PPEDA Principle 4.9.5, which states, when an individual successfully demonstrates the inaccuracy or incompleteness of personal information, the organization shall amend the information as required. Depending upon the nature of the information challenged, amendment involves the correction, deletion, or addition of information.
What is even more disturbing is that the Meridian Executive has hired Fasken Martineau and DuMoulin to representative them in the OPC case investigation.
I find it difficult to accept and understand that the Meridian Membership is not only unaware of the system mistake errors and the possible consequences of those mistakes, they are also unaware that their money is being spent on a law firm to represent Meridian in the case filed against them by the OPC.
This issue needs to become an important Consumer Alert story to give the Meridian Members and their families the benefit of the doubt on whether they were affected or not affected by these errors.