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FBI Search Still On For CEO Of Shuttered CU

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SOLON, Ohio (7/25/13)--The search is still on for the missing former CEO of the defunct Cleveland-area credit union, Taupa Lithuanian CU, which regulators shuttered on July 15.
 
The Federal Bureau of Investigation Wednesday released an updated photo of Alex Spirikaitis, who is wanted for "false credit institution entries" related to the collapse of the $23.6 million asset credit union (Cleveland.com July 24).
 
He was believed to be holed up in his home in Solon, Ohio, after authorities tried to serve an arrest warrant at his home on July 16. After what they thought was a 12-hour standoff with Spirikaitis barricaded in the home, the FBI discovered he was not there.
 
The FBI said Spirikaitis uses several aliases, including Michael R. Hess, Rudy Hess, and Richard Spirikaitis, and that he is considered armed and dangerous. The bureau is offering a reward for tips leading to his capture and prosecution, and said he could be headed to Canada.

CU System Briefs (07/25/2013)

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  • TULSA, Okla. (7/25/13)--66 FCU in Tulsa, Okla., has changed its name to Truity CU, the $635 million asset credit union announced Wednesday (BartlesvilleRadio.com July 24).  The new name reflects the credit union's 74-year foundation of trust and integrity, and will help it position itself for future growth and financial strength, President Kelly Diven told the station.  Founded in 1939 to serve Phillips Petroleum Co. employees and their families,  the credit union serves not only Conoco Phillips and Phillips 66 employees and their families, but those of other groups. Although it is already using its new name, Truity CU will convert to a new website during the next three to four months ...
  • PITTSFIELD, Mass. (7/25/13)--Greylock FCU has committed $50,000 over five years to support a senior nutrition program--Meals on Wheels--for Elder Services of Berkshire County.  Greylock's pledge will steer $10,000 annually from 2013 through 2017 to the program and will enhance the program's funding stability, said Greylock President Marilyn L. Sperling.  "This continuing commitment demonstrates Greylock's mission of strengthening  the community we serve," she said. The program provides more than a quarter million meals for Berkshire County seniors, and a thousand meals a day each Monday through Friday, said Elder Services Executive Director John Lutz. Pictured are, from left: Greylock's Karen Reilly and Victoria May; Lutz; and Greylock's Sperling and Executive Vice President John Bissell.  (Photo provided by Greylock FCU) ...
  • EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (7/25/13)--Royal CU  has advanced to the second round of the Social Madness National competition sponsored by The Business Journals. The competition measures a company's social media engagement.  The Eau Claire, Wis.-based RCU moved through the Minnesapolis/St. Paul, Minn., local round, then advanced to round one of the nationals. It is competing in round two in the national competition's medium category. Twenty companies in each of the small, medium and large company categories advanced in this week's round, which ends Monday.  In round tree, the top eight companies in each category compete in a bracket-style completion that begins Wednesday. The final round will end Aug. 19, with a national winner announced by Aug. 20. Three national winners will receive $10,000 to donate to the charity of their choice. To vote for RCU, log on to http://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/socialmadness. If RCU wins, it has pledged $10,000 to Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare through Children's Miracle Network Hospitals ...
  • SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (7/25/13)--Heartland CU President/CEO Ed Gvazdinskas will retire in February after nearly 40 years serving the Springfield, Ill.-based credit union (The State Journal-Register July 23). Chief Operations Officer Tom Lex has been named his successor.  Gvazdinskas began his career as assistant manager in 1975 and became vice president in 1979. He became president/CEO in 1983, when Heartland was still known as Sacred Heart CU.  During his tenure, the credit union grew to $231 million in assets from $18.5 million, and to more than 26,000 members from 9,000 ...
  • FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (7/25/13)--Pat Mott, who retired in March as president of Arlington (Texas) FCU after 36 years of service, has died, according to the Cornerstone Credit Union League (Leaguer July 24). Mott  began her career with the credit union in 1976 when the credit union served City of Arlington employees and their families. Eventually it added 57 select employee groups to its field of membership, and in 1998 and 2001, it was granted a charter to serve the communities of Arlington and Mansfield.  Mott also served as a director with the Texas Credit Union League from 1990 to 1998 and as director of Southwest Corporate FCU (now Catalyst Corporate FCU) from 1991 to 2010. Visitation will be Friday 6 p.m.-8 p.m. at the Wade Funeral Home in Arlington. A memorial mass will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church in Arlington ...
 

CUNA's 'Don't Tax' Tuesday Tweets Reach 800,000+

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WASHINGTON ( 7/25/13)--Credit unions took creative measures to make sure their members tweeted the "Don't Tax My Credit Union" message during the Credit Union National Association's DontTaxMyCU Tuesday national grassroots Twitter campaign.
 
They delivered that message to more than 875,397 people, including members of Congress and their Twitter followers. The message that lit up Twitter reached its mark with 2,171 tweets that specifically mentioned a member of Congress's Twitter handle and the #Don'tTaxMyCU hashtag, according to CUNA's analysis.
 
Also, more than 500 messages tweeted the hashtag but without mentioning a specific member of Congress.
 
"The overwhelming grassroots response on social media just shows how strongly the public--and especially credit union members--oppose taxing credit unions," said Paul Gentile, executive vice president of strategic communications and engagement. "Credit union members nationwide understand that a tax on credit unions is just another tax on them, and they are telling their representatives in Washington: 'Don't tax my credit union.'"
 
The Don't Tax My Credit Union messages included tweets from two congressmen--Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) and Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.)--who tweeted their agreement with the message. See related News Now story Even Lawmakers Tweet: 'I Agree #Don'tTaxMyCU.'
 
Click to view larger image Credit unions took creative measures to make sure their members took action on the "Don't Tax My Credit Union" message during the Credit Union National Association's DontTaxMyCU Tuesday national grassroots Twitter campaign. (Photo provided by Gesa CU)
One creative way to generate action came from Richland, Wash.-based Gesa CU, a $1.2 billion asset credit union with more than 112,020 members. Gesa CU tied access to its website at www.gesa.com to the Don't Tax My Credit Union efforts to contact members of Congress and deliver the "Don't Tax My Credit Union" message.
 
Those logging on to the credit union's site couldn't access it until they made a decision on whether or not they would opt to go to the Credit Union National Association's www.DontTaxMyCU.org site to send an e-mail to Congress.
 
Brian Griffith, marketing and communications manager, told News Now that as of Wednesday morning, the site had more than 5,532 click-throughs to the CUNA DontTaxMyCU microsite.
 
Some incorporated their tweets with vidoes.  A video from Alexandria,Va.-based CommonWealth One FCU was the subject of a Virginia Credit Union League tweet:  "Love this vid from @COFCU on importance of #Don'tTaxMyCU: http://bit.ly/12TnOrk ! Have u written ur lawmakers? http://bit.ly/NoTaxCU
 
The video of Charlotte Cash, president/CEO of CommonWealth One,  urges members to advocate for credit unions' tax-exemption, noting, "This is important to YOU because another tax on Credit Unions is just another tax on YOU." (Use the link to see the video).
 
Kristen Christian, who began the Bank Transfer Day movement with a tweet of her own, tweeted to her senators: "you can't touch the credit union tax exemption status! http://bit.ly/15J75WZ #DontTaxMy CU" and included entertainment--a video of MCHammer's song, "U Can't Touch This."
 
Other tweets:
  • The Northwest Credit Union Association tweeted: Taxing credit unions won't dent the deficit, but it will erase savings to the 2,870,939 members in your state. @CantwellPress #DontTaxMyCU
  • Shiro-oni:  @MaxBaucus @OrrinHatch Truth is, credit unions provide superior deposit & loan rates & greater protection from risk than banks #DontTaxMyCU.
  • StevePoniewaz:  Cooperative status is not a subsidy. Credit Union Members have paid their tax; #DontTaxMyCU@RepAnnWagner
  • Alabama CU: CUs return profits to their members. Taxing CUs hurts 1.8 million Alabamians. Visit bit.ly/ZY97Pz and ell Congress #DontTaxMyCU
  • Traci-rocks: @RepThompson @DianneFeinstein@SenatorBoxer Credit unions provide fair & affordable banking to millions of Americans-please #DontTaxMyCU
  • The Virginia Credit Union League:  #WhatPeopleDontRealize is #Virginai#creditunions re impt. source of credit ($64B in loans) and #jobs (employ 16,000 FT)#DontTaxMyCU
  • RT @BayAreaCU: This is a #CreditUnion Each member has one vote, regardless of the size of member's deposits #DontTaxMyCU
  • RT @jradebaugh: For every $1 of their fed income tax exemption #CreditUnion returns $10 to their members. Who else does that? ...
  • MT @aplusfcu: #creditunions in 2012 held $1.1B in assets, while the top 4 US banks each held more than that alone... #DontTaxMyCU
And this one from the day after from BankingYouCanTrust @BankingYouTrust: "Just because 'Don't Tax Tuesday' is over doesn't mean you shouldn't let your legislators know how you feel #DontTaxMyCU".

Mergers Of CUs Ongoing

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MADISON, Wis. (7/25/13)--Several mergers or planned mergers of U.S. credit unions are in the works, as the consolidation trend continues.
 
The mergers or intended mergers:
  • Mount Olivet FCU, with $258,000 assets in Columbus, Ohio, has merged into Columbus-based Telhio CU, with $477 million in assets, to give members additional benefits such as direct deposit and online banking (The Columbus Dispatch July  22).
  • Dublin, Ohio-based Healthcare FCU, with $52 million in assets, will merge Aug. 1 with $16.4 million asset MedPro FCU, based in Akron. Healthcare FCU will be the operating credit union (Business First of Columbus Online July 16).
  • Security One FCU, based in Arlington, Texas, with $55 million in assets, has signed an intent to merge into Texas Trust CU, a $748 million asset credit union based in Mansfield, Texas (Mergers & Acquisition Week July 24). The merged institution will have 12 branches. The merger will provide more benefits to Security One members, and  give Texas Trust a presence in Arlington.
  • $140 million asset USU Charter FCU, based in Logan, Utah, announced on July 2 its intent to merge into Goldenwest FCU, Ogden, with $814.5 million assets (Cache Valley Daily.com July 2). The merged entity, operating  as Goldenwest, will have 26 branches, $985 million assets and more than 106,000 members.
  • Parchment, Mich.-based First Community FCU, which has $682.4 million in assets, plans to merge with $264.3 million asset E&A CU in Port Huron (MiBiz.com June 23). Pending regulatory approval, the two credit unions intend to complete the merger later this year. The merged credit union will operate under a new name.
  • Quiet Corner Community CU, based in Putnam, Conn., and having $1.7 million in assets, has merged into Groton-based, $764 million asset Charter Oak FCU. As a result of the merger, Charter Oak's new Putnam branch absorbed Quiet Corner's former operations in Putnam, Charter Oak said on its website.
  • Kilowatt CU, with $22.7 million in assets, in Madison, Wis., will merge into Madison-based Heartland CU, with $191.5 million assets, on Aug. 1 (Channel3000.com July 21). Heartland will provide services to Kilowatt members that they couldn't previously obtain, said Kilowatt President/CEO Nick Troia.
  • The $300,000 asset DairyPak Athens CU in Athens, Ga., has merged into First Reliance CU, also of Athens, with $1.7 million in assets, so DairyPak Athens can offer its members a full range of services (OnlineAthens July 13).
The National Credit Union Administration said in its June Insurance Report of Activity that it approved 18 completed mergers in June. That  compares with 15 competed mergers in June 2012.

FASB To Have New Vice Chair As Of Sept. 1

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WASHINGTON (7/25/13)--The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) will have a new member and vice chairman as of Sept. 1.  The Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF), which oversees FASB,  announced Wednesday it has appointed James L. Kroeker, former chief accountant for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission,  for a term that will end June 30, 2018.
 
The FAF announcement notes that Kroeker will fill a vacancy created by the retirement on June 30 of former FASB Chairman Leslie F. Seidman.  It says that the dormant position of vice chair is being reinstated at this time because of "increasing demands on the time of the FASB chairman."
 
"Jim Kroeker is ideally suited to fill the new role of vice chairman at this important time in the FASB's history," said FAF Board of Trustees Chairman Jeffrey J. Diermeier.

"During his tenure as chief accountant, Jim demonstrated an unwavering concern for the interests of investors as well as those of preparers of financial statements. The combination of his deep technical expertise and his extensive experience working with a wide range of accounting constituents will make him an exceptionally able board member."
 
In April, Russell G. Golden was named new FASB chair as of July 1.

CUs Prepare To Unite For Good On 2013 ICU Day

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MADISON, Wis. (7/25/13)--The theme of this year's International Credit Union (ICU) Day, Oct. 17, is "Credit Unions Unite for Good," the Credit Union National Association announced.
 
"We are coming off a great Unite for Good impact at America's Credit Union Conference (ACUC) in New York City," said Paul Gentile, CUNA executive vice president, strategic communications and engagement. "Now is the time to take that message and drive it across the nation. This year's ICU Day initiative, 'Unite for Good,' is the perfect way to bring credit unions together around a common cause that will make a huge difference with both national and local impact."
 
This year's theme conveys the credit union movement's shared vision of uniting behind its worthwhile cause. The message speaks to the powerful global network of credit unions and the advantages that result from sharing challenges, experiences and solutions to better serve members, CUNA said.
 
Credit unions can celebrate the movement on ICU Day and use it as impetus for making a difference in their communities. Using CUNA's tools and resources, interested credit unions can make a local impact this fall.
 
CUNA's suggestions for local action include:

  • Initiate a small-business day;
  • Team up with other local credit unions;
  • Hold a financial simulation or reality fair;
  • Host a series of after-hour financial education seminars;
  • Host a Don't Tax My Credit Union event; and
  • Organize a Capitol Tour/Hike the Hill Day.

For more information use the link.

Loan Applications Fraud Up 38% In Calif., Mass. Cities

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LOVELAND, Colo. (7/25/13)--The metropolitan areas of Sacramento, Calif., and Barnstable-Yarmouth, Mass., saw potential fraudulent activity related to mortgage loan applications spike nearly 38%, compared with a national increase of 1.06% during the first quarter of 2013, according to new data.
 
Credit unions and other mortgage lenders in 10 metropolitan statistical area (MSAs) will need to be extra alert to potential fraud on loans, said Kroll Factual Data Inc., based in Loveland, Colo.
 
Despite the modest national uptick in potential fraud, certain MSAs experienced a see-sawing of fraud from the fourth quarter of 2012 to the first quarter of 2013, Kroll said. Kroll provides independent verification services to mortgage lenders, including credit unions.
 
"What is most notable this quarter is not only that data showed a nearly 38% increase of potential fraud in applications from Sacramento, Calif., and Barnstable-Yarmouth, Mass., but that these two MSAs were in the top three last quarters of geographies showing decreases," said Kroll President Rod Bazzani.
 
The drop "is a reminder to lenders that they cannot let their guard down when it comes to ensuring the integrity and accuracy of mortgage application data," Bazzani said.
 
The company examined MSAs with at least 1,000 loan applications per quarter and, using risk analysis and verification engines, isolated certain files that may contain indicators of potential mortgage origination fraud.
 
Sacramento had a 37.9% spike and the two Massachusetts cities a 37.5% increase in potential fraudulent mortgage applications during the quarter. Rounding out the top five MSAs with the highest increases are Wilmington, Del./N.J./Md., with 34.3%; Syracuse, N.Y., with nearly 26.2%, and Fort Pierce-Port St. Lucie, Fla., with almost 25%. 
 
Other cities with the highest potential fraud increases included:
  • Phoenix-Mesa, Ariz., with 20.7%;
  • Lubbock, Texas, with 20.5%;
  • Seattle-Everett, Wash., 16.9%;
  • Iowa City, Iowa, 14.3%; and
  • Kansas City, Mo.-Kan., 14%.
Leading the top 10 MSAs with the biggest decrease in potential fraudulent applications were:
  • Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson, S.C., down 19.6%;
  • Trenton, N.J., down 17%;
  • Miami, Fla., down 16.2%;
  • Nashua, N.H., down 15.1%;
  • Columbia, Mo., down 15.1%;
  • Nashville, Tenn., down 14.7%;
  • Bridgeport-Milford, Conn., down 14%;
  • Boise City, Idaho, down 13%;
  • San Francisco-Oakland,Calif., down 11.8%; and
  • Cincinnati, Ohio-Ky.-Ind., down 12%.

League Letter To Editor Touts Soundness of CUs

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (7/25/13)--Credit unions in Cleveland and Ohio are safe and sound, Paul Mercer, president/CEO of the Ohio Credit Union League, wrote in a letter to the editor published in Tuesday's edition of The Plain Dealer.
 
"Credit unions in Cleveland and throughout Ohio are in great shape," Mercer wrote. "They are modern, convenient, consumer-focused and community-centric. Take a look; you will like what you see."
 
Mercer was responding to a July 18 article in The Plain Dealer about Cleveland-area financial institution failures.
 
Credit unions in the Cleveland market collectively share a net worth ratio of 11.86%--well above the industry average and nearly double the levels deemed strong by state and federal regulators, Mercer wrote.
 
Mercer described credit unions' not-for-profit, member-owned cooperative structure that returns profits to members.  The core mission of credit unions is serving members, he wrote.
 
"They also provide competition to the for-profit structure, keeping products and services affordable and accessible to all," Mercer added.

St. Mary's Bank Warns Members About Breach

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MANCHESTER, N.H. (7/25/13)--St. Mary's Bank in Manchester, N.H., the oldest credit union in the U.S., is warning 115,775 of its current and former members about a security breach that may have compromised their personal information--including transaction records and Social Security numbers.
 
The credit union discovered malicious software--malware--on an individual employee workstation computer May 26, St. Mary's CEO Ron Covey wrote in a July 12 letter that the credit union began mailing out to members (New Hampshire Business Review July 26).
  
Immediately after discovering the malware, the $748 million asset credit union brought in a computer security consulting firm to analyze its computer system to eliminate the malware, the Review said.
 
The malware could have infiltrated 23 of St. Mary's workstation computers beginning in February, the security firm said. The malware captured information as it appeared on individual computer screens, the firm added.
 
So far there are no signs of unusual activity in member accounts created by the malware and no evidence that members' information had been acquired by unauthorized individuals, Covey said in the letter. However, the credit union urged members to change their online banking passwords.
 
For affected members, St. Mary's is making available one year of free identity theft protection services and credit-monitoring services through Experian.

Golden 1 Awards $320K In Scholarships To 33 Students

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (7/25/13)--Golden 1 CU has awarded 33 students $320,000 in renewable scholarships.
 
The $8 billion asset Sacramento, Calif.-based credit union awards annual renewable scholarships of $1,000 to $5,000 to full-time students who plan to attend an accredited, nonprofit two- or four-year college or university in California.
 
One of the winners, Svea Milet Joaquino of Elk Grove, received the Golden 1 CU Donna Giles Memorial Scholarship, which was named in honor of a former board member. This renewable scholarship awards $5,000, for a total of up to $20,000 over four years.
 
Applicants were required to sport a grade point average of 3.0 or higher and be involved in community service and extracurricular activities.
 
Golden 1 received applications from students between Oct. 15 and Jan. 15. The winners were notified in April. Scholarship funds will be disbursed to each student's college or university in August.