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Office manager charged with faking abduction in CU robbery

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WORCESTER, Mass. (10/18/10)--The office manager of a Worcester, Mass-based credit union that was robbed Aug. 27 and her husband are on trial for faking her abduction and stealing more than $200,000. Susan Carcieri, 59, office manager at WG FCU, Worcester, and her husband, George Labadie, 51, are charged with bank embezzlement and attempted counterfeiting and possession of counterfeiting equipment (Telegram.com Oct. 15). An investigator testifying at the trial in Worcester Superior Court said investigators found $4,000 in $10 bills hidden in an exterior wall of the couple’s home two days after they allegedly staged a robbery at the credit union. Court records indicated that $20,900 in $100 bills were recovered from home. Carcieri had reported she had been a victim of a robbery. Officers found her tied to a chair in the kitchen area of the credit union. Her feet and left hand were loosely bound to the chair with cords from a window blind. Her right hand was free, according to Detective Dennis Cullina.

Contested election for CUNA board seat

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MADISON, Wis. (10/15/10)—Another nomination has been received in the District 4, Class A race for a seat on the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Board of Directors. The nomination of Brian Smith-Vandergriff, board member of Catholic Family CU, Kansas City, Mo., brings the total nominations to 10 for board seats. Smith-Vandergriff will be running against Patricia A. Wesenberg, governmental affairs liaison, Marshfield (Wis.) Medical Center CU for the District 4, Class A. So far, that’s the only contested race in the elections. The deadline for nominations is Oct. 22. Voting will take place from Oct. 27 through Dec. 17. Nominations also have been received for:
* Stephen G. Behler, president/CEO of Kemba CU, West Chester, Ohio, for the District 2, Class B seat; * Jeff York, president/CEO of CoastHills FCU, Lompoc, Calif., for the District 6, Class B seat; * Brett Martinez, president/CEO, Redwoods CU, Santa Rosa, Calif., for a District 6, Class C seat in a special election; * Harriet May, president/CEO, GECU, El Paso, Texas, District 5, Class C. May is currently CUNA's chairman; * Paul Gentile, president/CEO, New Jersey Credit Union League, Hightstown, N.J., District 1, Class D; * Ed Williams, president/CEO, Discovery FCU, Wyomissing, Pa., for District 1, Class A; * Wendell Lyons, president/CEO of the Kentucky Credit Union League, District 2, Class D; and * Maurice Smith, CEO, Local Government FCU, Raleigh, N.C., District 3, Class C.
Positions up for election are:
* District 1, Class A; * District 1, Class D; * District 2, Class B; * District 2, Class D; * District 3, Class C; * District 4, Class A; * District 5, Class C; and * District 6, Class B.
There is one special election: CUNA's current District 6, Class C director will step down from the board at the end of this year. The successful candidate in that election will be seated Jan. 1 and serve through the 2012 CUNA Annual General Meeting. The others elected will take office Feb. 28 and serve a three-year term that expires at the adjournment of the 2014 CUNA Annual General Meeting.

CU System briefs (10/15/2010)

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* PHOENIX (10/18/10)--U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell (D-Ariz.) recognized Margaret Hunnicutt, CEO of Tempe Schools CU, during an appearance at a candidate event hosted by the Arizona Credit Union League and the $138 million asset credit union. Mitchell announced that on May 20, he honored Hunnicutt by addressing the House floor to express his gratitude for her service to the credit union and to the community. She was presented with a Certificate of Congressional Record displaying the speech he made to the House floor. Mitchell also confirmed his support of credit unions and their positive role in the community during tough economic times … * GREENVILLE, Tenn. (10/18/10)--A husband and wife pleaded guilty Thursday in a federal court in Tennessee to a 10-state robbery spree involving 11 banks and credit unions. Michael Watson and Nikki S. Watson were nabbed in January 2009 after a robbery in Hattiesburg, Miss. Michael Watson asked for the case to be transferred to Tennessee because that’s where most of the robberies occurred. The robberies included those of Diamond Valley CU, Evansville, Ind., and Appalachian Community FCU, Kingsport, Tenn. Sentencing has been scheduled for Nov. 22 (knoxnews.com Oct. 14 and 15) …

IMarketWatchI CU industry overall healthy

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WASHINGTON (10/18/10)--The credit union industry overall is “healthy and has strong prospects,” as the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) commences to sell off legacy assets securities from three corporate credit unions in conservatorship, according to a Thursday MarketWatch article. “NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz estimates that retail credit unions will have to pay between $7 billion and $9.2 billion into a stabilization fund to cover the losses from the wholesale credit unions,” wrote Ronald D. Orol, in an article titled “Credit unions mostly safe despite rescue: analysts.” “However, regulatory onlookers contend that it is unlikely these costs will translate into a major headache for retail credit unions, which number about 7,600, or significant new costs for their customers,” Orol added. He noted that retail credit unions were restricted from purchasing the kind of risky mortgage securities that helped fuel the financial crisis “and have fared fairly well.” Retail credit unions will only experience a minor impact due to problems encountered by corporate credit unions, Greg McBride, an analyst with Bankrate.com, said in the article. An analysis of the credit union industry indicates substantial improvement between December 2009 and June, Jonathan Vande Streek, a financial analyst at Austin, Texas-based Highline Financial LLC, which studies the banking industry, told Marketwatch. “Our analysis showed that in December credit unions mirrored what banks were going through, but since then, the situation has improved significantly for credit unions,” he said. “Credit unions have experienced a significant improvement in March and June.” The number of credit unions at “an extreme risk of failure” dropped to 99 from 197, based on a Highline analysis, the article said. The number of “troubled” credit unions fell to 423 from 876. Highline publishes solvency ratings on banks, savings and loan institutions and credit unions. The ratings measure capital adequacy, asset quality, earnings and liquidity, MarketWatch said. “The credit union industry is generally healthy and it is healthier than banks by a large margin. You are seeing the limit of credit union exposure to the subprime debacle,” Jeffrey Pilcher, a former credit union industry consultant, said in the article. Also, in a video interview with Orol, Matz said NCUA’s action is not a bailout and will be largely invisible to consumers because credit unions have the capital to absorb the losses. She also explained why the corporates had securities in the portfolio that went bad (they were triple-A rated at the time of purchase) and how NCUA’s new corporate rule will prevent a recurrence. To read the article and view the video interview with Matz, use the link.

Brekken to chair Minnesota foundation

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (10/18/10)--The Minnesota Credit Union Foundation (MNCUF) board of directors named new table officers at its Thursday meeting. Pat Brekken was elected chair, Dave Larson was elected vice chair, and Kristi Mukomela was elected secretary/treasurer. Brekken is president of Richfield/Bloomington CU, Richfield. Larson is senior vice president of Affinity Plus FCU, St. Paul, and executive director of the Affinity Plus Foundation. Both were appointed to new MNCUF board seats in October 2009 and were elected to three-year terms in August. Mukomela, president of Novation CU, Oakdale, served as MNCUF chair since 2004. “As the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation continues to grow in prominence throughout the state, I am excited about the opportunities we have to make a real difference in peoples’ lives,” Brekken said. The table officers serve alongside four other directors with staggered board terms. The other directors include:
* Chuck Albrecht, Mid-Minnesota FCU, Baxter; * Mary Hansen, Mayo Employees FCU, Rochester; * Lynn Kothe, North Memorial FCU, Robbinsdale; and * Judy Root, Bluestone FCU, Eagan.

Caribbean CU growth needs more oversight--WOCCU

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MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica (10/18/10)--The importance that strong financial performance numbers play in ensuring safety and soundness continues to increase as credit unions grow in size and influence throughout the region was the primary message recently delivered to 43 credit union supervisors from 17 Caribbean island nations gathered in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
The Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions (CCCU) supports prudential and proportional oversight for credit unions, according to CCCU President and World Council of Credit Unions Director Yvonne Ridguard. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
They participated in the Caribbean Credit Union Supervision Workshop, a three-day workshop co-sponsored by World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) and the International Monetary Fund's Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Center (CARTAC). Credit unions in the Caribbean, more so than most areas of the world, are being swept up in moves toward increased prudential supervision and government efforts to improve the institutions’ financial health, WOCCU said. Growing liquidity in the region has brought the need for better supervision and stronger regulations to ensure that credit unions are making prudent investments on behalf of their members, who need access to deposit insurance systems comparable to those offered by banks. Credit union assets in eight Caribbean nations currently represent 10% or more of their country's gross domestic product, demonstrating their financial influences on their countries' economic systems. As economies improve, more nations will be joining that group, according to WOCCU Director Yvonne Ridguard, president of the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions (CCCU), a WOCCU member organization. “We support credit unions having prudential and proportional oversight appropriate to their activities,” Ridguard said. “The workshop provided the kind of expert training and understanding of credit union activities that is needed in the region.” Participants received detailed training and examined case studies on asset quality assessments, credit union capital structure, credit union and bank comparisons, and WOCCU's PEARLS monitoring system. Representatives from central banks, financial ministries and cooperative departments in the region, and credit union supervisors from the National Credit Union Administration in the U.S., the Deposit Insurance Corporation of Ontario, Canada, and CCCU participated in the workshop. “This may be one of the most important training sessions that WOCCU and its partners have conducted,” said Dave Grace, WOCCU's vice president of association services and workshop co-facilitator. “Open dialogue helped participants that traditionally only focused on the cooperative nature of credit unions recognize their financial aspects, while many supervisors that formerly only focused on the financial aspects walked away with greater appreciation for the credit union mission. We see it as a watershed moment.” WOCCU, along with the Canadian Cooperative Association, will co-sponsor a similar regional meeting of African credit union regulators and national associations representing 10 nations Dec. 1 through Dec. 3, in Malawi.

N.C.s SECU recognized for Direct Deposit efforts

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RALEIGH, N.C. (10/18/10)--State Employees’ CU (SECU) was among six financial institutions named as a 2010 Go Direct Champion, announced the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Management Service.
Click to view larger image From left: Dave Lebryk, commissioner of the Treasury Department's Financial Management Service; Sandra Jones, vice president, member education at State Employees' CU, Raleigh, N.C.; Dick Gregg, Treasury fiscal assistant secretary; and Michael Barr, Treasury assistant secretary for financial institutions. (Photo provided by State Employees' CU)
The recognition was for the Raleigh, N.C.-based SECU’s role in encouraging direct deposit among federal benefit check recipients. The Treasury’s national Go Direct campaign has helped more than four million Social Security and other federal benefit check recipients switch to direct deposit since its launch in 2005. SECU, a participant in the program for three years, has been recognized as a Champion for the past two years. Financial institutions with a minimum of 100 branches are eligible to participate in the Go Direct program. Nineteen organizations representing more than 25,000 branches nationwide joined the campaign. Programs were tracked for increases in Social Security and Supplemental Security Income ACH payments over an eight-month period. Accepting the award for SECU at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., was Sandra Jones, SECU vice president of member education. “Direct deposit is a safe and convenient way for federal benefit recipients to receive their payments. Not only does it eliminate the risk of lost or stolen checks, but it provides members access to their funds in a timely manner.” David A. Lebryk, commissioner of the Treasury Department’s Financial Management Service, noted that SECU played “an essential role in motivating its senior members, people with disabilities and other federal benefit recipients to switch from checks to safer, easier direct deposit.”

ICU Day webcast to focus on CU Heritage

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MADISON, WIS. (10/15/10)--Credit union contributions to members and communities around the world, through good times and bad, will be the focus of this year's annual International Credit Union (ICU) Day
Click to view larger image Credit unions worldwide play a vital role in meeting the needs of their members, said Pete Crear, president/CEO of the World Council of Credit Unions.
webcast on Thursday, co-sponsored by U.S. Credit Union Development Educators and World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU). A panel of credit union and cooperative industry dignitaries will gather this year at the Credit Union House on Washington, D.C.'s Capitol Hill to discuss their collective member service heritage. "Credit unions in many different countries play a vital role in helping people who otherwise would lack access to basic financial services," said Pete Crear, WOCCU president/CEO and one of the panelists. "Celebrating ICU Day each year is a reaffirmation of the value credit unions provide to members at all socio-economic levels around the world." In addition to Crear, this year's panel will include Bill Cheney, president/CEO of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA); Paul Hazen, president/CEO of the National Cooperative Business Association; and Mark Meyer, CEO of the Filene Research Institute. The program will be moderated by Paul Berry, the voice of CUNA's Home and Family Finance Radio.
Click to view larger image International Credit Union Day offers opportunities to deepen members’ and communities’ understanding of credit unions, said Bill Cheney, Credit Union National Association president/CEO. (Photos provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
"This year's theme of 'Local. Trusted. Serving You.' perfectly captures what makes credit unions so appealing to consumers across the nation and around the globe," Cheney said. "We will use the celebratory events planned for International Credit Union Day as an opportunity to deepen this understanding among our membership and within our communities." The webcast will allow time at the end of the discussion for panelists to respond to questions submitted from online audience members worldwide. The webcast will run from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET on Oct. 21. It is open to the public and may be accessed by registering at WOCCU’s website (use resource link). The recorded program will be available for viewing on WOCCU's website after the broadcast. ICU Day has been celebrated annually on the third Thursday of October since 1948. The event provides a time and opportunity to honor those who have made great contributions to the global financial cooperative movement, to recognize the hard work of staff and volunteer board members working on behalf of credit unions and cooperatives today, and to express appreciation to members of credit unions and cooperatives living at home and abroad.