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CU System

CUNA Mutual Foundation contributes 43.5K to nonprofits

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WAVERLY, Iowa (2/9/12)--The CUNA Mutual Foundation contributed $43,500 in community grants to help support activities at six Waverly, Iowa-area nonprofit organizations as part of its ongoing support for the Waverly community in 2011.

CUNA Mutual Group's Waverly employee philanthropy team, a group of local employees who help make foundation funding decisions for non-profit agencies in the Waverly area, recommended the funded grants.

"With these donations, our Employee Philanthropy Team has chosen six non-profit organizations that play a big role in their local community's quality of life," said Reid Koenig, CUNA Mutual Group vice president of customer operations. "Some of these grants are new, while others are renewals of previous contributions. They all represent CUNA Mutual's long-term commitment to the programs and organizations involved."

The grants will help the respective organizations with these initiatives:

  • Waverly-Shell Rock United Way--A $16,000 foundation grant supplements Waverly employee contributions for a total of more than $52,000, making CUNA Mutual Group the largest contributor.
  • Northeast Iowa Food Bank (NEIFB)--The $10,000 contribution is the second installment of a two-year commitment totaling $25,000 to fund construction of a new NEIFB building, which is underway.
  • Cedar Valley Friends of the Family (CVFF)--The $5,000 contribution continues support for the "client emergency fund" for persons affected by domestic violence and sexual assault. CUNA Mutual Group helped establish this fund with previous contributions. Unfortunately, the need for CVFF services continues to rise in the Waverly area.
  • Big Brothers/Big Sisters--Big Brothers/Big Sisters targets children ages 6 through 18 who live in single-parent homes, are in poverty or are coping with parental incarceration. Government funding for Waverly's program was reduced by $10,000 in 2010. CUNA Mutual Group's $5,000 contribution will help Big/Brothers/Big Sisters continue existing baseline programs.
  • Aspire--The organization's Therapeutic Riding program improves the quality of life for disabled individuals who benefit physically, emotionally and cognitively through animal-assisted activities, primarily through interaction with horses. The $5,000 foundation grant will assist Aspire as it begins a fund drive to upgrade its horse barn.
  • Larabee Center--$2,500. The Larabee Center operates Trinkets & Togs, a retail operation providing work for 44 disabled persons. Employees prepare goods to be sold and work in the retail store assisting customers. The $2,500 grant will help the Larabee Center address a long list of needs.
CUNA Mutual Philanthropy Team member Sue Jacobson spoke for all her colleagues when she said, "I love serving on this employee team. It gives us all a chance to make a real difference in the community."

Va. state-chartered CUs can pursue low-income designation

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (2/9/12)--Virginia state-chartered credit unions now have the power to pursue a low-income designation after the State Corporation Commission adopted a parity regulation, according to the Virginia Credit Union League.

The capability will allow state-chartered credit unions that are granted the designation to take advantage of benefits and resources that are currently available to federal credit unions that have obtained a low-income designation, said Rick Pillow, league president/CEO.

Last year, the league approached the state Bureau of Financial Institutions on behalf of member credit unions, who were seeking that authority. State charters granted a low-income designation will now have the same additional powers as their federal counterparts.

The commission released the proposal for comment in late 2011. Comments on the proposed regulation were filed by the Virginia Credit Union League; Virginia CU, Richmond; BayPort CU, Newport News; Beacon CU, Lynchburg; Virginia Transfer and Storage Company; Virginians Against Payday Loans; and the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy.

All of the comment letters supported the proposed regulation.

"We believe in the dual-chartering system and we've worked hard to ensure parity between the state and federal charters," Pillow said. "I want to personally thank Commissioner Joe Face for his support, and special thanks also to the credit unions that joined the league in working on this proposal. It's another example of what we can accomplish together."

Low-income designated credit unions are eligible under federal law to:

  • Accept nonmember deposits;
  • Accept secondary capital;
  • Participate in the Community Development Revolving Loan Program;
  • Obtain funds from the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund operated by the United States Department of the Treasury; and
  • Become eligible for an exception to the aggregate loan limit on member business loans.

Developer Zai Indicted in Croatian FCU swindle

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CLEVELAND (2/9/12)--Eddy Zai, a Cleveland-area financier, was charged Wednesday with 34 counts related to obtaining $16.7 million in fraudulent loans from the defunct St. Paul Croatian FCU in Eastlake, Ohio.

Zai, 43, is one of 19 people charged in an indictment unsealed Wednesday morning (The [Cleveland] Plain Dealer  Feb. 8).

He significantly contributed to the credit union's collapse because he [allegedly] was the single largest recipient of the fraudulent loans, Stephen Anthony, head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Cleveland said in statement, according the Dealer.

Zai is charged with two counts of bank fraud, two counts of conspiracy, one count of bank bribery, 11 counts of money laundering, 17 counts of making false statements to a bank, and one count of making false statements to law enforcement, the Dealer said.

Koljo Nikolovski, 49, allegedly a central figure in the loan scam that caused the collapse of St. Paul Croatian--in one of the largest credit union failures in U.S. history--pleaded guilty Jan. 30 to 18 counts of bribery, bank fraud and money laundering. Nikolovski has been linked by Macedonian authorities to organized crime there. He is scheduled for sentencing on April 23 (News Now Feb. 1).

Nikolvoski entered the plea in the U.S. District Court in Cleveland. The charges stemmed from his alleged role in a $2.5 million fraudulent loan scam in which he allegedly obtained several loans worth about $2.9 million from 2003 through 2005 from the credit union (Cleveland.com and News-Herald.com Jan. 31).

Anthony Raguz, 51, of Mentor, former CEO of the defunct credit union, pleaded guilty in January to issuing more than 1,000 fraudulent loans to more than 300 account holders from 2000 to April 2010, according to the Justice Department documents (News Now Jan. 4). He allegedly accepted more than $500,000 in bribes, kickbacks and gifts from people obtaining the fraudulent loans. His sentencing will be Feb. 24.

Zai and others allegedly submitted fake loan documents to the credit union in bilking it out of the $16.7 million and then--to thank Raguz--Zai reportedly gave him several payments, usually in  $100 bills hidden in envelopes and delivered directly to Raguz at his credit union office, the indictment stated, according to the Dealer.

St. Paul Croatian FCU was placed into conservatorship on April 23, 2010, and closed the following May 1. It held $238.8 million in funds from 5,400 members when it collapsed, costing the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund $170 million. The collapse has prompted lawsuits by the National Credit Union Administration seeking to recoup some of the losses (News Now Jan. 4).

iAOLi Fee backlash cost banks 2M customers

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MADISON, Wis. (2/9/12)--Credit unions continue to see strong, positive effects from Bank Transfer Day, with continued media coverage of consumer's opting for more affordable financial services alternatives. 

A recent AOL Daily Finance article compared switching financial institutions with leaving a slightly abusive girlfriend--citing a 2011 Pew study that revealed the average bank account has 49 fees.

The article cites a recent study by Javelin Strategy and Research which said that 11% of the 5.6 million people who switched banks over the last three months--about 610,000--did so as part of "Bank Transfer Day," which was spurred by Bank of America's announcement to begin charging its customers $5 per month to use their debit cards for purchases. BofA ended scrapping the plan.

Another of 26% customers who switched financial institutions during the last 90 days--about 1,456,000 consumers--also cited new bank fees as the reason for the switch.

Also, the people who switched banks trended toward higher incomes, according to the Javelin study.

"As these higher-wealth, generally older consumers continue to consider their banking options, it seems likely that America's largest banks are going to continue hemorrhaging customers," the article said.

Texas league launches young professionals initiative

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (2/9/12)--The Texas Credit Union League (TCUL) is launching the Texas 12, a new young credit union professional's initiative. 

The league is taking applications of credit union professionals under the age of 35 who are "creative, colorful, entrepreneurial, pioneering and plugged in, with a passion for making a difference," according to Linda Webb-Manon, the league's vice president of public relations & communications.

TCUL is collaborating with the Filene Research Institute on the initiative, which will mirror Filene's Cooperative Trust. The Coopertive Trust began as the "Crash Network," a group of young credit union professionals that encourages growth for, and change by, young credit union professionals.

The Texas 12 will hold its first meeting at the Texas league's annual meeting, April 17-20.

Online applications for the Texas 12 initiative will be accepted through Feb. 22.

CU System briefs (02/08/2012)

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  • WASHINGTON (2/9/12)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Wednesday announced Pat Sowick has been promoted to senior vice president of CUNA League Relations. The promotion reflects her enhanced duties for the American Association of Credit Union Leagues (AACUL), where she serves as chief operating officer, and CUNA, specifically with regard to membership development and state governmental affairs in addition to her league relations duties and oversight of Credit Union House. Sowick has been with League Relations/AACUL for more than four years, following 10 years as vice president, CUNA Washington Operations, and is key to the success of that team, said Susan Newton, executive vice president, CUNA System Relations. During the past year, she has played a significant role in the restructuring of that area and in addressing the myriad of new challenges and opportunities CUNA faces supporting leagues and member credit unions, Newton added ... 

  • Click to view larger image Click for larger view
    JACKSONVILLE, Ark (2/9/12)--Arkansas FCU President/CEO Larry Biernacki, right, presented a $67,947.91 check to Arkansas Children's Hospital Foundation Director of Development Jennifer Selig, left, at a press conference held in the main lobby of Arkansas Children's Hospital Feb. 2. Arkansas FCU employees and members raised $57,947.91 through several fundraising events, including the sixth Annual Arkansas Federal Golf Classic, candy and cardstock sales and several Bunko events. CO-OP, a credit union-owned electronic funds transfer network and processor, contributed the additional $10,000, through its Miracle Match program, which encourages credit unions nationwide to fundraise for their Children's Miracle Network hospitals. Since 1998, Arkansas FCU, based in Jacksonville, Ark., has contributed more than $600,000 to Arkansas Children's Hospital. Arkansas FCU is part of Credit Unions for Kids, a national sponsor of Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. Children's Miracle Network Hospitals is a national organization dedicated to helping raise awareness and funds for its 170 member hospitals, including Arkansas Children's Hospital …

Three CUNA vendors win awards

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MADISON, Wis. (2/9/12)--Three vendor resources that the Credit Union National Association uses to enhance its online educational products won 2011 Best of Elearning!  awards.

Among the 2011 award winners were SumTotal Systems, Adobe Connect Pro and Articulate.

Hosted by Elearning! Media Group, the industry voice of the enterprise learning and workforce technology market, the Best of Elearning! awards are the online educational industry's premiere awards event. Winners were selected from more than 1750 nominations by Elearning! and Government Elearning! magazines' reader community and altogether, 56 products across 20 categories were honored with Elearning! awards.

Sum Total Systems won the overall category of Best Talent Management system and received Awards of Excellence in the categories of Best Learning Management System and Best Learning Content Management System. Sum Total Systems' learning management system oversees all aspects of global education and training by automating and optimizing the administration, management, delivery and end-user experience of blended learning programs. CUNA uses Sum Total Systems' award winning learning management system in CUNA CPDOnline, its Web-based training service.

Adobe Connect Pro won the overall category of Best Web Seminar Solution and tied for first place in the Best Virtual Classroom category. Adobe Connect Pro is a Web conferencing solution. CUNA uses Adobe Connect Pro's software to support the CUNA Training Bundle and its unlimited access to CUNA webinars and eSchools.

Articulate won the overall category of Best E-learning Development Tool and Best Assessment Tool and won Awards of Excellence in the categories of Best Rapid Development Tool and Best Presentation Tool. Articulate provides software that allows professionals to produce employee training and other critical learning materials. CUNA CPDOnline users are able to upload Articluate's award-winning software to CUNA CPDOnline's site and train employees with their own content.

"When the vendors CUNA uses win awards for excellence, we celebrate their success as a victory for our suite of online educational products," said Marlo Foltz, CUNA director of Blended Learning. "At CUNA, we take pride in offering our credit union members access to the top online educational resources available in the industry and are very pleased to see our vendors being recognized for the outstanding work that they do. Best in class technology enables us to provide outstanding resources."

To learn more about CUNA's suite of online educational resources, visit training.cuna.org.