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Wisconsin CUs push change in Dominican Republic
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (2/9/09)--Executives from Wisconsin credit unions, the Wisconsin Credit Union League (WCUL), and World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) were in the Dominican Republic recently to help their counterparts there develop a better regulatory environment for the Caribbean nation's financial cooperatives.
Click to view larger imageFrom left, Brett Thompson, president of the Wisconsin Credit Union League; Dave Grace vice president, association services at World Council of Credit Unions, and Victoriano DeJesus, deputy administrator of IDECOOP, which represents Dominican Republic cooperatives, discuss credit unions. (Photos provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
The visit was part of WOCCU's International Partnerships program. The officials met with leaders from Asociacion de Instituciones Rurales de Ahorro y Credito (AIRAC), the Wisconsin league's counterpart in the Dominican Republic. The organizations met with the country's Central Bank, its Superintendency of Banks and the Institute for Cooperatives to lobby for updating regulations and examination procedures that would better address credit union-specific needs in the Dominican Republic. The country's current legislation dates back to the 1960s. Credit unions hope to modernize it to match the industry's growth and manage risks that are inherent with larger-scale service in meeting growing member demands. "Credit unions in the Dominican Republic have an opportunity to significantly modify their legislative and regulatory environment for the first time in 45 years," said Dave Grace, WOCCU vice president of association services. "We are happy that WOCCU and the Wisconsin Credit Union League have been able to contribute to this effort and that industry input is being sought by the country's lawmakers."
Click to view larger imageParticipants in the World Council of Credit Unions' (WOCCU) International Partnerships visit to the Dominican Republic were: from left, Victor Corro, WOCCU International Partnerships senior manager; Kim Sponem, Summit CU; Mary Bliss, the Wisconsin Credit Union League; Brett Thompson, league president/CEO; Dean Wilson, Focus CU; Greg Hilbert, Fox Communities CU; and Tom Liebe, Wisconsin league
After the meeting, Pedro Silverio, CEO of the Central Bank, asked AIRAC to submit comments to the current bill before it is introduced to Congress later this year. The request marks a step forward for the country's credit unions, said Virginio Rafael Gerardo, AIRAC general manager. In addition to WOCCU executives, the Wisconsin delegation included: Dean Wilson, WCUL chair and CEO of Focus CU, Wauwatosa; Brett Thompson WCUL president/CEO; Mary Bliss, WCUL executive vice president/chief operations officer; Tom Liebe, WCUL vice president of government affairs; Kim Sponem, president of Summit CU, Madison; and Greg Hilbert, president of Fox Communities CU, Appleton. The group also met with two credit unions: Cooperativa Empresarial in Santo Domingo and Cooperativa Maimon, located in a rural area. The Wisconsin delegation also participated with their Dominican Republic counterparts in a seminar covering financial topics such as the U.S. economy and its global impact. WCUL's Liebe spoke on lobbying techniques, and an interactive panel of CEOs discussed mergers, financial products and services, and shared branching. The Wisconsin-Dominican Republic partnership may next offer an executive exchange program to teach credit union officials about their specific credit union responsibilities, officials said.
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