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Inside Washington (10/14/2011)

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* WASHINGTON (10/17/11)--U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and House colleagues on Thursday called on Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate whether big banks are coordinating their fee strategies in violation of federal anti-trust laws. In a letter to Holder, Welch and his colleagues highlighted public statements by banks and banking associations that point to possible efforts to coordinate fee increases. “It appears that banks are seeking to justify fee increases after Congress and the Federal Reserve Board recently limited banks’ ability to collude with networks to set debit interchange fees,” the lawmakers wrote. “Statements made by individual banks and their trade associations raise questions about whether some price increases that have occurred this year have actually been coordinated.” Three of the nation’s four largest banks--Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo--recently announced they will begin charging new debit card fees … * WASHINGTON (10/17/11)--The federal agencies that supervise credit unions, banks, thrifts and the Farm Credit System on Friday published guidance that updates the interagency questions and answers regarding flood insurance published in July. The guidance finalizes questions related insurable value and force placement of flood insurance. The agencies withdrew another question regarding insurable value. They requested comment on three additional proposed updates to questions and answers relating to force placement of flood insurance. Two answers have significantly changed. The third change, regarding force placement of flood insurance, revises a previously finalized question and answer for consistency with the proposed changes … * WASHINGTON (10/17/11)--Charlotte, N.C., the likely site of the 2012 Democratic National Convention, may prove to be an uncomfortable location after President Barack Obama’s comment last week that the government may be able to stop banks from charging some fees (American Banker Oct. 14). Charlotte is a banking city, and the home of both Bank of America (BofA) and the 73,000-seat Bank of America Stadium, where the convention would likely be held. One industry source said he could not recall a similar instance of a president citing a specific company in comments. BofA has not responded publicly to the president’s comments …

CUNA stresses compliance issues to CFPB BSA groups

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WASHINGTON (10/17/11)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) continued to emphasize the high compliance burdens and increased costs that the Federal Reserve’s proposed remittance changes would impose on credit unions during a meeting with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) last week. The Fed proposal, which will be finalized by the CFPB, would implement a provision of the Dodd-Frank Act to require credit unions and other remittance providers to provide estimates of fees and exchange rates. The proposal also includes new error resolutions procedures. CUNA specifically noted that the compliance burden would increase for credit unions and others that rely on “open networks,” adding that disproportionately high costs borne by smaller credit unions and other unintended consequences could effectively force many, if not most, credit unions to cease or limit their international wire and international automated clearinghouse (ACH) products. Bill Cheney, CUNA president/CEO, said CUNA “continues to seek a positive outcome on this proposal during the rulemaking process and will follow up with the CFPB to emphasize credit union concerns and to provide additional information.” CUNA last week also met with U.S. Treasury representatives at a Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) Advisory Group meeting. Suspicious activity report (SAR) activity review statistics and law enforcement cases, potential changes to BSA filing procedures, and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s information technology modernization efforts were among the topics covered during the meeting. CUNA Deputy General Counsel Mary Dunn said CUNA’s regulatory advocacy staff will continue to work with the BSA group and their subcommittees, as well as CUNA’s Payments Policy Subcommittee and credit unions, to address further BSA developments and to minimize compliance burdens associated with reporting forms and regulatory proposals.

FASB accounting meeting to hear CUNA CU comment

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WASHINGTON (10/17/11)--The concerns of credit unions and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) will be represented at today’s Financial Accounting Standards Board’s (FASB) private-company accounting roundtable by Patelco CU Chief Financial Officer and CUNA Accounting Subcommittee Chairman Scott Waite. The meeting, which is scheduled for 9 a.m. (PT) in San Francisco, Calif., will allow representatives from private companies, CPAs, and users of private-company financial statements to engage FASB “in a constructive dialogue about private-company accounting and reporting issues” related to U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), FASB said in a release. The FASB release said accounting and disclosure requirements relating to variable interest entities, interest-rate swaps, and Level 3 fair value measurements will be among the items covered during the meeting. Waite noted that public and private companies currently abide by the same accounting standards, and many have suggested that changes are needed. Although public companies produce their financial statements mainly to inform their investors, credit union financial statements are mainly produced to inform the National Credit Union Administration and other regulators of their financial status. “The needs of the different types of users are different and so perhaps the standards should be as well,” Waite added. Waite told News Now that his comments will center on the relevancy of these standards, the cost and benefit of the standards and related disclosure requirements, and the rapid change in standards in recent years. The Financial Accounting Foundation earlier this month proposed establishing a new Private Company Standards Improvement Council. FASB in an earlier release said this new group, if approved, would review U.S. GAAP and determine how those standards could be improved to better serve the needs of private companies. The group could then issue modifications, if needed. For more on FASB’s meeting and the potential standards improvement council, use the resource links.