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Johnson says transparency is cornerstone of tenure
Washington (3/6/08)—Addressing her seventh and perhaps final Governmental Affairs Conference Wednesday, National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) JoAnn Johnson said the word “transparency” captures the spirit of her six years of work as federal regulator. “Transparency means to let the sunshine in,” where credit union members’ rights are at stake, she told the audience at the Credit Union National Association conference here. Transparency is the “best vehicle” to assure members have necessary information to make informed decisions about their ownership rights, she said. Johnson reiterated her position that her agency is not in the business of “dictating management decisions for credit unions,” but rather “to ensure decisions are made with members’ best interests at heart.” The NCUA chairman, whose term ended in August but who has pledged to stay, if possible, until her successor is in place, encouraged credit unions to comment on a recent advance notice of a proposed rulemaking (ANPR) on the accuracy of communication to members, integrity of member voting and fiduciary obligation of senior executives. She said she considers that ANPR issued in January to be perhaps the most important issued during her tenure. It considers amending agency rules to more clearly define a credit union board's fiduciary duties in the face of major decisions, such as mergers or conversions to mutual thrifts. The NCUA announced last week it has extended the comment period to April 30 from March 31 as it considers amending its rules on credit union board's fiduciary duties. “Please give the ANPR your thoughtful consideration and let us hear from you on this proposal regarding mergers, credit union charter conversions and insurance termination transactions. “While the transparency issue can be complex, a member-centric answer is deceptively simple and one the credit union industry should be eager to embrace,” Johnson said. The White House in December nominated Michael E. Fryzel, an Illinois real estate lawyer and former director of the state's Department of Financial Institutions, to succeed Chairman Johnson on the NCUA board. However, his name is among the many delayed appointment nominees awaiting confirmation action from the Senate. Early in February, President George W. Bush called on the Senate to start immediate work on its confirmation process for a long list of pending nominations, including Fryzel and three nominees to the Federal Reserve Board.
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