* ALEXANDRIA, Va. (2/18/09)--A recent National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) legal opinion letter (NCUA General Counsel Opinion 09-0108
) explained why a federal credit union is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Under FOIA, federal agencies are required to make certain records available to the public. However, the NCUA wrote, the law defines agency to include “any executive department, military department, government corporation, government controlled corporation, or other establishment in the executive branch of the government (including the Executive Office of the President), or any independent regulatory agency.” NCUA Associate General Counsel Sheila Albin wrote in the Jan. 26 opinion, “While federal credit unions may be considered federal instrumentalities under certain federal laws, for example tax and bankruptcy laws, federal credit unions are not agencies for purposes of FOIA” … * WASHINGTON (2/18/09)--Financial industry observers are concerned about the possible subjectivity of stress tests at large banks. The Treasury announced last week that tests would be given to 18 of the nation’s largest banks, but it provided no further information (American Banker
Feb. 17). The tests, which regulators are developing, could recognize unemployment or a bank’s exposure to derivatives. Ultimately, observers say the tests could indicate a change in the way Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) money is used if TARP funds are given to banks who fail the tests. Previously, TARP was given only to healthy banks. Banks were required to stress test their capital levels under original Basel II rules finalized last year ... * WASHINGTON (2/18/09)--Executive compensation limits in a $787 billion economic stimulus package signed by President Barack Obama Tuesday appear to be eased. The compromise package did not include several, more restrictive provisions in the Senate version of the stimulus (American Banker
Feb. 17). Two provisions that were killed would have scaled back executive bonuses of more than $100,000 at companies with Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds and would have limited the total annual compensation executives could receive to $400,000. Under current law, companies are banned from giving bonuses to senior executives until TARP funds are repaid. The Obama administration has indicated that it would revise the executive compensation limits after the legislation is signed. One revision would limit compensation to $500,000 for companies receiving TARP funds ... * WASHINGTON (2/18/09)--The Federal Reserve Board announced that it will restructure its check processing operations in the Third and Fifth Districts. As of April 18, the Baltimore branch office of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond no longer will process checks. Banks served by that office will report to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. Some deposited checks that currently are non local checks will become local checks subject to shorter permissible hold periods in affected regions ...