Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Southeast Financial Credit Union Sues The College Network

Southeast Financial Credit Union is suing The College Network, an Indianapolis-based college test preparation company.

The lawsuit alleges that The College Network owes the credit union more than $12 million and that The College Network is insolvent and trying to shield assets from creditors.

According to the lawsuit, the credit union has had a business relationship with The College Network since 2003 and holds about $35 million in loans taken out by about 10,000 of the college test preparation company's nationwide customers.

Since The College Network is not a school, the loans were not student loans; but rather personal loans subject to higher interest rates and immediate repayments.

The Attorney Generals of Indiana and New York are also suing The College Network for fraud. They contend that very few people actually complete the program and earn a college degree.

The Indianapolis Star reported last year that The College Network allegedly used outright fraud and high-pressure sales tactics to sign up customers.

One last thought, why did Southeast Financial partner with The College Network and extend its contract with the company last year?

Read more.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Lake Trust CU Opens New 100,000 Square Foot HQ

Lake Trust Credit Union (Brighton, MI) opened its new 100,000 square foot corporate headquarters.

The estimated cost of the project is $30 million.

The new open design facility of the $1.6 billion credit union features a three-story atrium and a living wall.

Also, the building includes front and back patios, walking trails, a fitness center, and restaurant for employees. However, it is not clear whether these amenities are available to the credit union's members.

Read the article.

Link to HQ.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

SWC Credit Union Closed

The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) liquidated SWC Credit Union of Tampa, Florida.

The Florida Office of Financial Regulation had placed SWC into conservatorship and named NCUA as the agent for the conservator. NCUA made the decision to liquidate SWC and discontinue its operations after determining the credit union was unable to restore viable operations.

SWC Credit Union had 309 members and assets of $1.9 million, according to the credit union’s most recent Call Report.

SWC is the sixth federally insured credit union liquidation in 2015 and the second Florida-based credit union to be liquidated this year.

Read press release.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Keys FCU Emerges from Conservatorship

The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) announced that Keys Federal Credit Union, of Key West, Florida, is once again under the control of its members.

Keys was placed into conservatorship by NCUA six years ago in September 2009.

Keys FCU reported profits of $1.2 million for 2014 and $829 thousand for the first six months of 2015. As a result, Keys' net worth ratio has grown to 5.75 percent from 4.07 percent over the last six quarters.

Keys is the first credit union since 2013 to emerge from NCUA conservatorship.

Read more.

2014 HMDA-Reporting CUs Accounted for More Than 9 Percent of Mortgages

The 2014 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data show that credit unions continued to gain mortgage market share, as their mortgage share reached historic highs.

According to the HMDA data, there were 1,984 HMDA-reporting credit unions. However, most HMDA-filing credit unions (1,150 institutions) originated fewer than 100 mortgages in 2014.

These HMDA-filing credit unions reported having 909 thousand applications and 545 thousand originations in 2014. Credit unions accounted for a little over 9 percent of all mortgage originations.

The report notes that nearly 9 percent of conventional mortgages for home purchase were higher-priced loans by credit unions. The report points out that small banks and credit unions originate a disproportionately higher share of high-priced mortgage loans compared to other lenders.

In addition, the HMDA data showed that the percent of conventional mortgages held in portfolio at credit unions have declined over time. In 1995, credit unions held over 80 percent of such loans in portfolio. By 2014, it had fallen to 61 percent.

Check out here Tables 11, 13 and 14 for more information on mortgage lending by lender type.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Lawsuit Accuses Los Angeles FCU of Violating Federal Overdraft Regulations

Reuters is reporting that Los Angeles Federal Credit Union has been hit with a proposed class action lawsuit accusing the credit union of violating federal regulations by not properly obtaining customers' consent before charging overdraft fees for its checking accounts.

The lawsuit, which was filed last week, also stated that the credit union charged overdraft fees based on an internally calculated "available balance," not the actual funds in the customers' accounts.

Read the story.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Conserved Bethex FCU Owes TARP Funds

Last Friday, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) placed Bethex Federal Credit Union into conservatorship.

Bethex FCU is currently holding $502,000 in subordinated debt issued through the TARP's Community Development Capital Initiative.

This $502,000 in subordinated debt represents the majority of the credit union's net worth of $745,570.

Without an injection of new capital, Bethex FCU will probably have difficulty repaying these TARP funds and may default on its TARP obligations.

I suspect that NCUA will engineer a merger of Bethex with another credit union, which would repay the TARP funds.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Bethex FCU Placed into Conservatorship

National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) placed Bethex Federal Credit Union in Bronx, New York, into conservatorship.

NCUA placed Bethex into conservatorship to enable the credit union to continue regular operations with experienced management in place and correct previous operational weaknesses.

Bethex was undercapitalized with a net worth ratio of 5.75 percent. As of June 2015, over 15 percent of the credit union's loans were 60 days or more past due. The credit union reported a loss of almost $788 thousand through the first two quarters of 2015.

Chartered in 1970, Bethex Federal Credit Union serves multiple occupational and associational groups and communities primarily located in Bronx. Bethex Federal Credit Union has 5,584 members and $12,951,096 in assets, according to the credit union’s most recent Call Report.

Read more.

Taxi Medallion Lender Montauk CU Seized

The New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) took possession of taxi medallion lender Montauk Credit Union, located in New York City, and appointed the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) as conservator.

NYDFS placed Montauk Credit Union into conservatorship because of unsafe and unsound conditions at the credit union. While continuing normal member services, NCUA will work to resolve issues affecting the credit union’s operations.

See discussion on Montauk CU's Q2 financial performance here.

Read the press release.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

FinCEN Director: Unusual Number of Credit Unions Not Filing CTRs and SARs

Many credit unions have not filed any Bank Secrecy Act-mandated Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs)or Currency Transaction Reports (CTRs) for the past two years, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery told a credit union group on Tuesday.

“Some early research we are looking at suggests that we have a surprisingly larger ... statistically relevant and unusual number of credit unions that over a seven quarter period filed neither a SAR or CTR,” she said at a government relations event sponsored by the National Association of Federal Credit Unions. “There could be problems with the data," she added, but called the number of non-reporters “surprising.”

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

RBS Settles Mortgage-Securities Lawsuit with NCUA

Bloomberg is reporting that Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc has agreed to pay $129.6 million to resolve a lawsuit claiming it sold toxic mortgage-backed securities to two failed corporate credit unions.

The offer by two RBS units is not an admission of liability, according to a filing late Tuesday in a New York federal court.

The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Board sued the units on behalf of the now-defunct Southwest Corporate Federal Credit Union and Members United Corporate Federal Credit Union in 2013. NCUA claimed that RBS distorted the quality of mortgage loans backing securities bought by the defunct corporate credit unions.

Read the story

Read the NCUA press release.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Supervisory Actions at Closed Board Meeting Need to be Made Public

On September 16, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Board in a closed meeting will be considering 4 supervisory actions.

After the meeting, I believe the NCUA Board has an affirmative obligation to make public any supervisory actions that it take against credit unions.

It was the intent of Congress when The Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 became law that formal enforcement actions needed to be disclosed by federal banking regulators, including NCUA.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Judge Dismisses Taxi Medallion CUs Lawsuit

In a decision unveiled on September 9, Quuens Supreme Court Justice Allan Weiss ruled that for-hire vehicles could use electronic hails to compete with yellow cabs handing a defeat to the four taxi medallion lending credit unions that brought the lawsuit.

The four credit union plaintiffs had sought an injunction against Uber arguing that they will suffer irreparable harm.

However, the judge did not grant plaintiff's request for an injunction and dismissed the case.

In his opinion, the judge wrote that increased competition from Uber type companies is insufficient to show a violation of the City Charter.

The judge wrote: "[A]ny expectation that the medallion would function as a shield against the rapid technological advances of the modern world would not have been reasonable. In this day and age, even with public utilities, investors must always be wary of new forms of competition arising from technological developments."

The four credit union plaintiffs are expected to appeal the judge's decision.

Read more.

NCUA: Over Half of All CUs Lost Membership Year-over-Year as of Q2 2015

Despite reporting an overall increase in credit union membership, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) reported that "52 percent of federally insured credit unions had fewer members at the end of the second quarter of 2015 than a year earlier."

NCUA noted that membership growth was concentrated at larger credit unions.

The median membership growth rate for credit unions was a negative 0.3 percent. Credit unions with falling memberships tend to be small; about 75 percent had assets of less than $50 million.

Median membership growth for federally insured credit unions was negative in 21 states, with Pennsylvania ranking the lowest at minus 2.1 percent.

Read the press release

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Fired Alabama One CU Officials Sue State Regulator

The soap opera that is Alabama One Credit Union continues to take a new turn.

The latest development is that some former officers and board members of Alabama One Credit Union filed a lawsuit on September 8 claiming they were improperly dismissed by the Alabama Credit Union Administration (ACUA), which seized the Tuscaloosa-based credit union on August 27.

The ACUA fired Alabama One's executives and dismissed its board of directors on the same day the credit union was placed into conservatorship.

The lawsuit seeks the reinstatement of 11 Alabama One officials to their previous positions and the return of the control of the credit union to the board of directors. The plaintiffs are also seeking monetary damages and a permanent injunction against ACUA and its administrator.

Read more.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

NCUA: FICUs May Buy Participation in Loan Generated through Indirect Lending Channels

The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) in a legal opinion letter to the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates stated that a federally insured credit union (FICU) is permitted to purchase a participation in a loan generated by an indirect lending arrangement under limited circumstances.

According to NCUA, an expansive reading of its rule would treat a retailer as performing an administrative function, which is an extension of the FICU's or eligible organization's lending operations, and not as a separate lender generating the loan.

NCUA cautioned that in an indirect lending arrangement the final underwriting decision must reside with the FICU or eligible organization and the retailer must assign the loan or sales contract to a FICU or eligible organization very soon after it is signed by the borrower.

It is NCUA's view that the longer the time period between the formation of the contract and its assignment, the greater the likelihood that the arrangement will be treated as a purchase of a third party loan instead of making a loan through an indirect channel.

Read the legal opinion letter.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Without Injunctive Relief from Uber, CU Taxi Medallion Lenders Predict Carnage

An August 28 letter from the law firm representing four New York City credit unions specializing in taxi medallion loans to Zachary Carter, corporation counsel for the de Blasio administration, warns that without immediate injunctive relief to enforce hail exclusivity, the taxi medallion industry will collapse and the credit unions that finance taxi medallions will face irreparable harm.

The 8-page letter notes that delinquencies and troubled debt restructuring have risen significantly at the largest taxi medallion lending credit union, Melrose Credit Union. The letter further points out that numerous medallion loans made by Melrose are maturing in the next six months and that Melrose is no longer in a position to refinance or modify these loans, as these loans mature with significant end of term balloon payments. The letter warns that widespread foreclosures are a near certainty.

Attorney Todd Higgins wrote:

"To illustrate the magnitude of the crisis rapidly unfolding as a direct result of the City’s failure to enforce hail exclusivity, we advised Justice Weiss that Petitioner Melrose Credit Union’s (“Melrose”) aggregate medallion loan delinquencies on January 1, 2014 were approximately $32,000. As of May 31, 2015, delinquencies had ballooned to approximately $167,704,125. Likewise, on January 1, 2014, Melrose had no medallion loans that were classified as troubled debt restructurings. As of May 31, 2015, troubled debt restructurings were approximately $148,491,250. Thus, as of May 31, 2015, Petitioner Melrose alone had approximately $316,195,375 in delinquencies and troubled debt restructurings across its medallion loan portfolio. As of July 31, 2015, Melrose’s medallion loan delinquencies had risen to $206,248,126 — an increase of approximately 23%, just since the Order to Show Cause was first signed by Justice Butler on June 1, 2015. As of July 31, 2015, Melrose had approximately $395,626,920 in delinquencies and troubled debt restructurings across its medallion loan portfolio — an increase of more than 25% in the same period. Petitioner Melrose has warned that it can no longer realistically continue modifying medallion loans or continue refinancing medallion loans at increased loan to equity ratios as those loans mature with significant end of term balloon payments. Melrose has approximately 471 of these loans maturing over the next six months, with balloon payments totaling approximately $212,000,000. In December alone, Melrose has 190 medallion loans maturing with almost $83,000,000 in balloon payments becoming due. Given the dramatic acceleration in delinquencies and troubled debt restructurings, widespread foreclosures are a near certainty."

The August 28 letter states that this harm is not a hypothetical scenario but "a reality that is already unfolding."

Coincidentally, since April 2015, the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund has added $17.2 million in Reserves to $186.8 million.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

CoVantage CU to Buy Bank Branch

CoVantage Credit Union (Antigo, WI) has announced they have signed an agreement to purchase the facility operating as Northwoods National Bank in Elcho.

While the agreement between CoVantage Credit Union and The Baraboo National Bank (which owns Northwoods National Bank) is subject to final regulatory approval, plans are being made to transfer ownership of the deposit accounts and overdraft protection lines from Northwoods National Bank to CoVantage.

The Elcho Branch had slightly more than $19.4 million in deposits as of June 30, 2014.

The price tag for this transaction was not disclosed.

Friday, September 4, 2015

UNC Makes $3 Million Loan to Self-Help Credit Union to Buy Northside Properties

The Daily Tar Heel is reporting that the University of North Carolina (UNC) has given Self-Help Credit Union a $3 million, zero-percent interest loan with a term of 10 years.

The loan will allow Self-Help Credit Union to acquire properties as part of the Northside Neighborhood Initiative.

Read more.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Federally Insured Credit Unions Saw Strong Loan Growth; Net Income Was $2.4 Billion for the 2nd Quarter

The National Credit Union Administration is reporting that assets, loans, and deposits (shares) at federally insured credit unions grew during the second quarter, as credit unions with more than $500 million in assets paced the industry’s growth.

Total assets in federally insured credit unions grew to $1.17 trillion at the end of the second quarter of 2015, a rise of 5.9 percent from the end of the second quarter of 2014. Deposits at federally insured credit unions increased $46.5 billion from the end of the second quarter of 2014 to $986.8 billion.

Total loans at federally insured credit unions reached $745.2 billion in the second quarter of 2015, an increase of 3.2 percent from the previous quarter and 10.6 percent from a year earlier. All major loan categories grew during the quarter. Outstanding new car, used car, and first mortgage loans grew by more than 3 percent during the second quarter. Net member business loans were up 2.9 percent during the quarter to $54.4 billion. Outstanding indirect loans stood at $124.7 billion -- up almost $6 billion during the quarter.

Since loans grew at a faster pace than deposits, the loans-to-shares ratio at the end of the second quarter was 75.5 percent, up 2.2 percentage points from the previous quarter and up 3.9 percentage points from the end of the second quarter of 2014.

According to NCUA, credit unions reduced their interest rate risk during the quarter, as the industry's net long-term assets ratio fell to 32.6 percent in the second quarter.

Net income for federally insured credit unions was $2.4 billion in the second quarter, an increase of $96.1 million, or 4.2 percent, from the second quarter of 2014. This was the twenty-second consecutive month that the industry reported positive net income. Year-to-date, credit union profits were $4.6 billion.

Year-to-date return on average assets ratio stood at an annualized 81 basis points at the end of the second quarter, equal to the level in the second quarter of 2014. Overall, 77 percent of federally insured credit unions reported positive returns on average assets for the first half of 2015, compared to 74 percent in the first half of 2014.

The aggregate net worth ratio reached 10.92 percent at the end of the second quarter, up 16 basis points from a year earlier. The vast majority of federally insured credit unions are well-capitalized, while 51 federally insured credit unions were undercapitalized.

Delinquent loans rose during the second quarter, while net charge-offs fell. The percentage of loans 60 days or more past due was 74 basis points, up from 69 basis points the previous quarter. The delinquency rate on member business loans was 1.02 percent -- up 8 basis points during the quarter. The net charge-off ratio declined to an annualized 46 basis points year-to-date from 49 basis points at the end of the second quarter of 2014.

Read the press release.

Read the financial trend report.

Plan Proposes to Convert CUs to Commercial Banks and to Eliminate CU Tax Exemption

The following editorial by Benjamin C. Bishop, Jr., Chairman of Allen C. Ewing & Co -- an investment bank with office in Jacksonville (FL) and Charlotte (NC) -- proposes a plan to convert credit unions to commercial banks and to eliminate the credit union tax exemption. The editorial first appeared in the Second Quarter 2015 Florida Banking Industry Update. The portion of the editorial dealing with the proposed plan is reprinted with the permission of Allen C. Ewing & Co.

The Proposed Plan

The “Credit Union Conversion Legislation” that this Plan proposes must be passed by Congress as legislation will be necessary not only to repeal the current income tax exemption of the credit union industry but also to enact enabling legislation to facilitate the steps discussed below. The legislation would require a mandatory conversion of the existing credit union charters to state or national banking charters as of January 1, 2017. At that date, the converted credit unions would become subject to a federal tax of 33% of the calculated income taxes in 2017, 66% in 2018, and 100% beginning January 1, 2019.

In discussing the phases of the proposed conversion, we have used as an example, a credit union with assets of $250 million, tangible capital of $25 million, pre-tax income of $2.5 million, 1,000,000 shares outstanding, and 1,000 qualified members.

Phase I: Each member of the credit union would receive equally shares in 50% of the equity capital of the converted bank (500,000 shares) which would be distributed at no cost and tax-free to each member. The shares would have a tangible book value of $25.00 per share, and each member would receive 500 shares. The shares would have a value of $12,500 if they were valued at book value. Qualified members will be those who were members as of a selected date several months prior to the conversion date of January 1, 2017.

Phase II: Depending on the size of the credit union and its business plan, the directors can offer any part of the remaining 50% of the authorized shares at any time to the public to raise capital. The shares would be offered at a price to be determined, and the members would have the right to purchase shares in the offering, i.e., a Rights Offering.

Phase III: The existing management, directors, and staff of the credit unions will become the management, directors, and staff of the bank. The bank can continue to offer the same products and services but at rates and prices that
reflect the cost of income taxes.

Phase IV: The credit union regulatory authority, NCUA, would be merged into a comparable state or federal bank regulatory authority. The NCUA Share Insurance Fund (“NCUSIF”) would be merged into the FDIC’s Deposit Insurance Fund (“DIF”). If the reserves/asset ratio of the NCUSIF is less than that of the DIF’s requirement, the premiums paid to DIF by the converted credit unions would be increased to fund any shortfall.

Phase V: Existing rates and terms on the credit union’s loans and deposits as of December 31, 2016, would be grandfathered in.

The reluctance in the past by politicians to address the unfairness of the present tax exemption for credit unions is attributable primarily to the perception that the credit union industry is too small to be of concern, and that credit unions provide a unique service to small affiliated groups that’s banks do not provide. The perception has also been that the elimination of the income tax exemption from the credit union industry would be injurious and would turn members against those members of Congress sponsoring this legislation. The Plan addresses these perceptions.

The Plan should have the following positive effects on the credit union industry and Congress:

Credit Union Members: The Plan will provide the credit union’s members with the same products and services that they currently have, but at bank rates. They would become shareholders of the succeeding commercial bank, as they would receive shares of the bank representing their implied interest in the credit union. Unlike the member’s interest in the credit union, the shares of the bank will have tangible value.

Existing CDs and loans will have their terms and rates grandfathered as of December 31, 2016, and they will be dealing with the same management and staff that they currently have.

Credit Union Management and Directors: There should be no change in management and/or the directors when the charter of the credit union is terminated and a bank charter becomes effective. The bank will have access to new capital to support future growth, and trading markets for the bank’s shares may result for the larger banks.

Credit Union Staff: There should be no changes.

NCUA Regulators: They will be merged into a federal or state bank regulatory organization.

Government: The conversion will result in increased tax revenues of $2.5 billion per year. The Plan will also result in greater regulatory efficiency as the existing credit union regulatory staff and insurance fund will be merged into existing, larger banking regulatory entities.


In order to obtain the support of some members of Congress, it may be necessary to broaden the benefits of this Plan. As veterans represent a significant percentage of the credit union membership, a portion of the projected new tax revenues could be allocated to improve VA hospitals.

The challenge is to obtain the attention of key members of Congress to support this Plan, and when a member of Congress understands the purpose and benefits of this Plan, the sponsorship should become achievable. Banking industry leadership needs to be more aggressive by joining forces in seeking the elimination of the credit union tax exemption and, in doing so, creating a level playing field for depository institutions.

This Plan needs to be implemented as soon as possible because of the rapid growth of credit unions facilitated by their tax advantage and their departure from their initial tax-exempt purpose, i.e. catering to small affiliated groups. The prior conversion of mutual savings banks and mutual savings & loans years ago was very successful, and there is no reason why the same success should not be the result of this long-needed Plan.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Arkansas FCU Booted from $17.5 Million Loan Participation

At the request of the Arkansas Bankers Association, Arkansas Federal Credit Union, the state's 10th largest financial institution, was disinvited from participating in a $17.5 million loan for the Little Rock Tech Park.

The Arkansas Bankers Association pointed out that it would be a stretch for the Little Rock Tech Park Authority to qualify for credit union membership.

Bankers also objected to a tax-exempt credit union earning interest from a borrower supported by taxpayers via a sales tax approved by voters.

Read more.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

NCUA Board Should Follow Up on Community Charter Expansion

National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Board Member J. Mark McWatters can score a blow for accountability and transparency by using the September 17, 2015 NCUA Board meeting to follow up on First Service Federal Credit Union’s community charter expansion that was granted in September 2014.

Last September, the NCUA Board approved First Service Federal Credit Union’s request to expand its community charter to include Delaware, Fairfield, Franklin, Licking, Madison, Morrow, Pickaway and Union Counties in Ohio.

However, during the September 2014 Board meeting, Board Member McWatters asked a series of questions of NCUA staff about what type of follow up the agency does to ensure that the credit union follows through on its commitments, especially to those people of modest means.

Below is the transcript of the exchange between Board Member McWatters and NCUA staffer Rita Woods.

J. Mark McWatters: What about follow up? There’s a request to expand field of service into other areas. What follow up do you guys do with respect to First Service, sticking with their promises of going into those areas, providing services, particularly to those of modest means?

Rita Woods: Yes. We will follow up with the credit union after a year of receiving approval of this request to make sure that they are following the plan that they provided to us and serving the residents in the Greater Columbus area as well as definitely reaching out to the underserved areas and doing as they said they would do in terms of, adding a service facility and increasing their marketing budget.

J. Mark McWatters: Okay. What if they don’t do what they say they’re going to do?

Rita Woods: Well, if they do not do what they say they’re going to do, then it’s possible that we could maybe look at having some type of administrative action in terms of whether or not they can continue to serve this area if they do not do what they say they’re going to do. But of course we’re going to give them the opportunity to do as they’ve indicated in their plan.

But if it deems that they will not abide by or comply with their plan, then we will take some kind of action to, perhaps, maybe even remove the area if they’re not going to serve it as they said that they would.

J. Mark McWatters: Okay. So if First Service makes a promise, makes a commitment to serve a certain area or for a certain type of person, persons of modest means, I know those words are easy to write, they’re more difficult to follow through with. So I would encourage you to follow through with that and make sure they’re exactly doing that. And if they’re not, then there needs to be some teeth in the remedy so the next time a person comes along asking for an expansion with promises that sound really great on paper, that they actually follow through. So that’s all my questions. Thank you.

I think it is in the public interest for the NCUA Board to evaluate if this credit union complied with its plan and that this deliberation be done in an open Board meeting.


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