Banah Sugar’s executive director, Yurek Vásquez, said the company will make payments to the more than 200 people and companies it owes money to, after the beginning of a reorganization process supervised by a federal court was revealed.
“This is a reorganization that gives us time to pay our providers,” Vásquez said. “Our intention is to continue working with them, fulfill our duty to them.”
Vásquez spoke to El Nuevo Herald for the first time after the sugar company filed for bankruptcy last week under Chapter 11, which allows continued operations while restructuring.
On Monday, several representatives of creditors expressed outrage at Banah’s non-compliance, accusing it of making payments with checks without funds.
Vásquez, who took over the leadership at Banah in November, said that the previous administration of the company faced “management problems.”
“One of these problems was a flawed communication between the previous administration and providers,” Vásquez said. “The fact that payments were pending did not mean that they were not going to get paid, but no one heeded the providers, nobody explained a payment plan to them so they would know when they were getting paid.”
Banah’s former executive director, Diego Leiva, told El Nuevo Herald he retired from the sugar company in October after learning the background of owner Alex Pérez, who served four years in prison for cocaine trafficking.
But Vásquez said Leiva did know about Pérez’s past and the real reason he left had to do with a mutual agreement after management problems were detected.
“I came to make an evaluation of the company and, after seeing the poor performance and deficiencies, I decided to make staff changes,” Vásquez said. “Leiva agreed with the changes, which included his resignation.”
The company operates with 15 employees. He said the size of the staff would depend on growth of production and new markets.
He said Banah is “now more efficient,” with a plant that can produce 24 million bottles of liquid sugar a year. Before, it imported liquid sugar at substantial cost.