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NCUA enhances homepage consumer site

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (11/2/11)—The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) on Tuesday unveiled a newly enhanced version of its homepage,, as well as the second phase of its consumer  site

The agency has enhanced portions of the sites that help users find a credit union and added archived current and historical credit union regulations. The agency has also overhauled its individual board member and department pages on, adding content on upcoming public appearances and meetings, new photos, and other informa
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The search functions and navigation elements of each page have also been improved, the NCUA said. However, portions of the CUOnline site that help users look up call report data have not been changed, the NCUA said.

NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz said the agency "took great care to solicit feedback from current users to improve features, navigability, and ensure robust content. In an on-going effort to provide accurate and timely information to credit unions, NCUA is committed to keeping these sites fresh and updated."

And for users of its consumer website, NCUA promised "a more streamlined experience" with all consumer content moved to that online location.

Inside Washington (11/01/2011)

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  • WASHINGTON (11/2/11)--Fannie Mae's multifamily department is under investigation by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, according to a report in the National Mortgage News confirmed by the government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) on Monday (The New York Times Nov. 1). Also, David Worley, Fannie Mae's chief risk officer in charge of multifamily mortgages, has left the GSE. A Fannie Mae spokeswoman would not confirm whether Worley's departure is related to the investigation. Worley's responsibilities included underwriting standards and related areas. He joined Fannie in 2005 from Senderra Capital and First City Partners …
  • WASHINGTON (11/2/11)--A report by the Government Accountability Office finds fault with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's handling of the 2008 bailout of American International Group (AIG) (American Banker Nov. 1). In September 2008, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System   approved emergency lending to AIG--the first in a series of actions that led to the Department of Treasury's authorization of $182.3 billion in federal aid to assist the company. New York Fed officials provided inconsistent explanations for their decision to pay other financial companies the full amounts they were owed by AIG, according to the report. In other cases, the government sought concessions on payments to other companies. Some of the companies indicated a willingness to accept smaller payments the report, said …
  • WASHINGTON (11/2/11)--The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) on Tuesday began the independent foreclosure review required under the agency's enforcement actions taken in April. Under the enforcement actions by the OCC, the Federal Reserve, and Office of Thrift Supervision, 14 large mortgage servicers were required to correct deficiencies in their servicing and foreclosure processes and to get reviews from independent firms of foreclosure actions that occurred in 2009 and 2010. Independent consultants will evaluate whether borrowers suffered financial injury during the foreclosure process and determine appropriate remediation. Where a borrower suffered damages, the consent orders require remediation to be provided. The 14 mortgage servicers covered by the enforcement actions began mailing letters to eligible borrowers explaining how to request a review of their case if they believe they suffered financial injury as a result of errors, misrepresentations or other deficiencies in foreclosure proceedings related to their primary residence between Jan. 1, 2009 and Dec. 31, 2010. Borrowers also may visit for more information about the review and claim process …

J.P. Morgan seeks NCUA lawsuit dismissal

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WICHITA, Kan. (11/2/11)—J.P. Morgan Securities last week asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas to dismiss the National Credit Union Administration's (NCUA) securities sale-related suit, saying that the agency is "ignoring its own assessment" of what led to the corporates failures and is instead blaming JP Morgan for the corporate credit unions' losses.

The NCUA in its suit claims that J.P. Morgan sold a combined $1.5 billion of questionable residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBSs) to corporate credit unions, making numerous material misrepresentations in the offering documents. These misrepresentations caused the corporate credit unions that bought the notes to believe the risk of loss associated with the investment was minimal, when in fact the risk was substantial, the agency added. The corporates' investment in these RMBSs, and the eventual declines in value, effectively rendered the corporates insolvent, the NCUA said.

The NCUA filed the suit earlier this year as liquidating agent of U.S. Central FCU, Western Corporate FCU, Members United Corporate FCU, and Southwest Corporate FCU.

Calling the corporates "major players in the mortgage industry," J.P. Morgan in its motion to dismiss said the credit unions "were familiar with the risks associated with the mortgage loans backing their RMBS and the lending practices used to originate those loans." The J.P. Morgan response also cited a recent NCUA Office of the Inspector General report that found the corporates "should have recognized the risk exposure that [their] significant concentration in mortgage-backed securities represented earlier than 2007 and 2008" and "should have been more vigilant about investing so heavily in higher risk residential mortgage loans taken out by borrowers with the questionable ability to repay the mortgages".

"Despite warnings from the offering documents, the news media and even the Board itself, the Credit Unions made the informed decision to plunge the majority of their assets into residential mortgage-backed securities at the height of the housing bubble. That investment strategy—which even the [NCUA] has condemned as 'aggressive', 'excessive' and 'unreasonable'—backfired when the housing bubble burst," J.P. Morgan said.

The agency has requested nearly $2 billion in combined damages from Goldman Sachs, RBS Securities and J.P. Morgan. The agency has brought four lawsuits and said earlier this year that it expects to take an additional five to 10 actions. Credit Union National Association (CUNA) General Counsel Eric Richard said that these Wall Street firms have the potential to provide significant reimbursement of the credit union system's losses, but reclaiming these losses may be a long, difficult process for the NCUA.

The NCUA said any recoveries from these legal actions would reduce the total losses resulting from the failure of the five corporate credit unions and would help to reduce the amount of future corporate credit union stabilization fund assessments on credit unions. NCUA Deputy Executive Director Larry Fazio earlier this year said the agency would need to charge between $7 billion and $9 billion in future assessments to pay for the remaining losses from troubled assets at corporates, and added that he could not predict how long the NCUA would need to continue charging Temporary Corporate Credit Union Stabilization Fund assessments.

Amir-Mokri confirmed to financial institutions post at Treasury

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WASHINGTON (11/2/11)--Cyrus Amir-Mokri was confirmed by the U.S Senate this week to serve as the U.S. Treasury Departments assistant secretary for financial institutions, a post that makes him responsible for developing and coordinating the Treasury's policies on legislative and regulatory issues affecting financial institutions.

Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney has requested a meeting with Amir-Mokri, who succeeds Michael Barr who left the agency in January of this year. Cheney congratulated Amir-Mokri on his confirmation and pointed out that his position is one of the most important for credit unions in terms of public policy.

President Barack Obama nominated Amir-Mokri in early September. As Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions, Amir-Mokri will develop and coordinate Treasury's policies on legislative and regulatory issues affecting financial institutions. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Tuesday said Amir-Mokri will be a valuable asset at Treasury as the department continues to implement Dodd-Frank Act reforms and moves forward with other key initiatives.

CUNA works closely with Treasury officials in this position, pursuing issues such as increasing the credit union member business lending cap and supplemental capital. CUNA General Counsel Eric Richard said Amir-Mokri has impressive credentials, and added that one of CUNA's first objectives will be to provide Amir-Mokri with background on the importance of credit unions. "We hope to meet with him as soon as his schedule permits," said CUNA Deputy General Counsel Mary Dunn.

Amir-Mokri recently served as senior counsel to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) chairman and served as that agency's deputy representative to the Financial Stability Oversight Council.

The Wall St. Journal reported that Amir-Mokri helped write portions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act that focused on derivatives regulations. The Tehran, Iran-born Amir-Mokri has also worked in the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and received his law degree from the University of Chicago Law School. He also holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of Chicago and an A.B. in Biochemistry from Harvard College, according to an administration release.

CUNA to consumers Stay alert to big bank fees

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WASHINGTON (11/2/11)--Although Bank of America on Tuesday announced that it would cancel plans to charge a $5 per month fee to debit card account holders, Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney said the damage to Bank of America has already been done, and warned consumers that the bank would figure out a way to make up for the revenue it is forgoing by rescinding its debit card fee.

More than 7,000 credit unions have reported membership application increases following Bank of America's September monthly debit fee announcement, and CUNA surveys show that eight out of 10 credit unions still offer at least one free checking account with no minimum balance requirement and no maintenance or activity fees.

The public outrage over the practices of Bank of America and other large banks has resulted in an influx of new credit union members and increased news coverage for credit unions nationwide. Cheney said this emphasis on credit unions over the last several weeks "has been phenomenal" and serves "as confirmation of our long-standing tenet that credit unions are 'people helping people,' and the best choice for American consumers.

"If nothing else, this extraordinary period has exposed more people to the value of credit unions – which we hope will translate to longer-term relationships. Indeed, by what we are hearing from our member credit unions across the nation, tens of thousands of consumers have already made the change to credit unions, bringing with them hundreds of millions of dollars of savings," Cheney added.

Consumers nationwide reportedly plan to switch from bank to credit union accounts this Saturday, Nov. 5, but Cheney said this pro-credit union march doesn't have to end this Saturday. "Any day is a good day for a consumer to become a credit union member."