News Now Archive

Published on December 27, 2012.

More named to House Financial Services positions

WASHINGTON (12/27/12)--House Financial Service Committee Chairman-elect Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) has announced the names of those who will comprise the Republican leadership team for his panel and its subcommittees. Meanwhile, the House Democratic Caucus named the six new Democratic members it will send to the Financial Services Committee next year.

Hensarling also announced plans to combine two existing subcommittees--the Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology Subcommittee and the International Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee.

The parent financial services committee's leadership team for the 113th Congress, in addition to Henarling, is:

Hensarling named the following to head the panel's subcommittees:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the House Democratic Caucus' choice of the following new House Financial Services Committee Democrats:
The Senate will re-convene today at 10 a.m. (ET) and begin consideration of a bill (H.R. 5949) that would extend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 2008 for five years. House leaders have said they will give a 48-hour warning if that chamber will reconvene, so, at this writing, Friday would be the earliest time the House could come back into session. A stalemate over the fiscal cliff continues.
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CFPB sets up two field hearings on mortgage policy

WASHINGTON (12/27/12)--Remarks by Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray will kick off two upcoming field hearings on mortgage policy early in the new year.

The CFPB has posted a "save the date" notice on its website inviting stakeholders to a Thursday, Jan. 10 field hearing in Baltimore, Md., or a Thursday, Jan. 17 field hearing in Atlanta.

After Cordray's remarks, field hearing attendees will hear testimony of consumer groups, mortgage industry representatives, and members of the public.

The bureau promises more information as the field hearing dates get closer.

To attend, one must email cfpb.events@cfpb.gov with full name and organizational affiliation (if any applies).

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NMLS announces extended call center hours

WASHINGTON (12/27/12)--The Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System & Registry (NMLS) has extended its call center hours through the end of the year due to the approaching deadline for individual mortgage loan originators (MLOs) annual renewals.
 
If a renewal is not completed by Dec. 31 an additional processing fee of $30 will be imposed. The extended hours are (ET):

The call center is closed Tuesday, Jan.  1.

Use the top resource link below to access steps both institutions and MLOs should follow to successfully renew or reactivate a registration.  The NMLS recommends that an institution contact its primary federal regulator with questions regarding who is required to renew. The call center numbers are 240-386-4444 TTY/TDD and 800-877-8339.

For the first time, MLOs will receive a notification in 2013 from NMLS confirming that the renewal or reactivation process is complete.
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Inside Washington

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CUs made sure kids had good holiday


Click to view larger imageEmployee JoAnn Ruggiero (third from left) of Bethpage (N.Y.) FCU shops with children who are clients of Education & Assistance Corp. (EAC) programs as part of the 13th Annual EAC Holiday Shopping Spree sponsored by the Marie & Micheal Gubitosi Foundation.  More than 100 children were given $100 Walmart gift cards, and an hour and a half to shop with Bethpage volunteers to help them decide on toys, clothing and electronics to fulfill their holiday wish list. (Photo provided by Bethpage FCU)
MADISON, Wis. (12/27/12)--Credit unions nationwide undertook or sponsored holiday programs to make sure children had a happy holiday season.
 
Bethpage (N.Y) FCU, with $4.85 billion in assets, pledged its support to several children's non-profit organizations, providing toys and support to underprivileged Long Island families. For the fourth year in a row, through its "Heart of Bethpage" community outreach program, Bethpage volunteered to support Operation Jocelyn Spirit, a nonprofit organization that answers children's letters to Santa. More than 80 Bethpage employees "adopted" a local child, answered his or her letter, and fulfilled the child's holiday wish list by purchasing presents.
 
Bethpage also participated in the 13th annual Education & Assistance Corp. Holiday Shopping Spree, sponsored by the Marie & Micheal Gubitosi Foundation and hosted this year by Walmart's Farmingdale location. More than 200 Long Island foster children each received a $100 gift card to purchase items on their holiday list and shopped with Bethpage volunteers, who helped them make their choices of toys, clothing and electronics.
 
Bethpage supported two additional efforts including the John Theissen Foundation Toy Drive by placing toy collection bins in every branch. This is the 10th year Bethpage has worked with the foundation. Also, as part of the Newsday Holiday Lights Festival, sponsored by Bethpage, children and families from across Long Island created holiday cards for children admitted to Cohen's Children's Medical Center, located in New Hyde Park.   
 
Other examples of credit unions with the holiday spirit:
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St. Paul Croatian FCU defendant enters not guilty plea

CLEVELAND (12/27/12)--Another figure arrested in the loan fraud scheme that contributed to the collapse in 2010 of Eastlake, Ohio-based St. Paul Croatian FCU has entered a not guilty plea for his alleged role in the case.
 
Svetislav Vujovic, 40, of Brunswick, Ohio, pleaded not guilty Friday in a federal court in Cleveland to one count of financial institution fraud, one count of bribery in connection with the business dealings of a financial institution, and two counts of money laundering.
 
The indictment filed against him earlier this month alleged that from January 2004 to January 2008, he fraudulently obtained loans totaling about $2.2 billion, which were not repaid (Medina County Gazette Dec. 8).
 
Vujovic is one of nearly 20 people who have been arrested for the fraud scheme.
 
The scheme involved $1 million in kickbacks, bribes and gifts paid to the defunct credit union's CEO, Anthony Raguz, in return for issuing more than 1,000 fraudulent loans to more than 300 account holders at the credit union. The loans were worth a total $70 million and were allegedly made from 2000 to April 2010, when the credit union was placed into conservatorship, then liquidated by the National Credit Union Administration.
 
Raguz was sentenced last month to 14 years in prison (News Now Nov. 27). The alleged ringleader. Koljo Nikolovski, 49, of Eastlake and Skopje, Macedonia, was sentenced to 18 years in prison (News Now May 14).
 
The closure of the credit union, which cost the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund more than $170 million, was one of the costliest credit union failures in history

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WOCCU taps nine International Exec Volunteer Corps leaders

MADISON, Wis. (12/27/12)--World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) has inducted nine credit union professionals into its International Executive Volunteer Corps (IEVC).

The IEVC recognizes industry leaders for their dedication to international credit union development and volunteer service with WOCCU.

"World Council volunteers are vital to international credit union development and to building a global community," said Brian Branch, WOCCU president/CEO. "Partner credit union movements receive tailored, one-on-one training in critical areas. At the same time, seasoned professionals who lend their expertise bring a unique international perspective back to their credit unions."

The new IEVC members are:

IEVC members are affiliated with WOCCU's volunteer activities and International Partnerships Program, which formalizes credit union movement partnerships throughout the world to share best practices in operations and product development.
 
Inductees have demonstrated at least a three-year commitment to furthering  WOCCU's international credit union development efforts. Each has engaged in two or more volunteer assignments abroad. IEVC members must have hosted at least four international credit union professionals at their individual credit unions within the previous two years. The achievements of this year's inductees span six countries.
 
For more information about WOCCU's International Partnerships Program, and to view a complete list of IEVC members, use the links.
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Guthrie FCU is newest member of FHLBank Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH (12/27/12)--Guthrie FCU in Sayre, Pa., is the newest member of the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLBank) of Pittsburgh, the FHLBank announced Monday.
 
The FHLB is a three-state financial institution cooperative of commercial banks, thrifts, credit unions and insurance companies in Delaware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
 
The $62 million asset Guthrie FCU has membership spanning more than 60 common bonds of community activity, including families, businesses and nonprofits. Guthrie FCU is the 28th credit union member to join FHLBank Pittsburgh (Business Wire Dec. 26).
 
Earlier this month, AmeriChoice FCU in Mechanicsburg, Pa., with $165.8 million in assets, also joined the FHLB-Pittsburgh.
 
Membership in FHLBank Pittsburgh supports Guthrie FCU's liquidity by providing access to FHLBank's product line of financial services, including low-cost loans (advances), which can be used for community lending, general asset/liability management and financing.

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Several states report CU mergers

MADISON, Wis. (12/27/12)--Credit unions in several states reported mergers or proposed mergers with other credit unions before the holidays. Here is the latest merger list.
 
In Texas, Two San Antonio credit unions--Air Force FCU and Peoples Choice of San Antonio FCU (PSCA FCU)--announced they have merged, as of Dec. 15,  with Air Force FCU remaining as the primary credit union. PSCA's field of membership will be incorporated into the Air Force FCU charter.
 
Air Force FCU President/CEO Robert "Bob" Glenn will continue to head the surviving credit union. The merger will create a stronger financial cooperative and provide expanded services to members in San Antonio and around the world, the credit unions said in a press release.  The merger will provide access to eight branches in San Antonio and brings Air Force FCU to more than $350 million assets and nearly 37,000 members.
 
In Springfied, Mo., CU Community CU (CUCCU), announced the completion of its merger with Springfield-based Southwest Missouri CU, effective immediately.  CUCCU is the remaining credit union. The combined credit union has more than 10,000 members and $90 million in assets.  Southwest Missouri CU had more than 3,500 members living and working in Greene and Christian Counties, said CUCCU President/CEO Judy Hadsall. "The merger is complete, and Southwest Missouri CU members are already taking advantage of enhanced products and services offered by CU Community," Hadsall said.
 
Two credit unions in Niagara Falls, N.Y.,  have merged, effective Dec. 1. They are the $78 million asset Niagara's Choice FCU and the $46 million asset Niagara County's FCU.  The combined credit union will be known as Niagara's Choice FCU, and have 23,000 members and $122 million in assets.  It now operates five full-service branches--two in Niagara Falls and one each in Lockport, North Tonawanda and Wheatfield  (Business First of Buffalo Online Dec. 13). The combined credit union will retain Niagara's Choice CEO Alfred Frosolone.  Nancy Kasprzak-Whitmore, former CE) of Niagara County's FCU, will be executive vice president of the combined credit union.  No staff have lost their jobs in the merger, which makes Niagara's Choice the second largest credit union in the county and the fifth largest in the region.
 
In Minnesota, Baxter-based Mid-Minnesota FCU, a $237 million asset credit union with 36,109 members, announced that on Dec. 1, Ashby FCU, a $1.2 million asset credit union serving 500 members in Ashby, had merged into Mid-Minnesota.

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HarborOne sets March meeting on converting to bank

BROCKTON, Mass. (12/27/12)--HarborOne CU has scheduled a special meeting of its members to vote on the Brockton, Mass.-based credit union's proposal to convert to a mutual cooperative bank charter.
 
The meeting is set for 5 p.m. E.T. on March 11 at The Shaw's Center in Brockton (Enterprise News.com Dec. 25). If approved, the conversion would go into effect by the end of 2013.
 
The credit union has said that converting to a bank charter would enable it to expand into Boston, make more commercial loans and raise more capital. It also has said it cannot open a branch in Boston because it is restricted to serving four counties in Southeastern Massachusetts.
 
The National Credit Union Administration has pointed out that the credit union could petition the state to expand its geographic boundaries. The agency also has said HarborOne is not near its member business lending cap and it could sell stock to raise capital (News Now May 8).
 
Members who have had an account at the credit union for at least three months as of this coming Feb. 15, and who are at least 18 years old, will be eligible to cast their ballot on the proposed change.  A conversion would require a simple majority of the members who vote. Members will be sent ballots before the meeting, and they can choose to vote either by mail, by taking their  ballot to their branch, or in person at the meeting in March.
 
The $1.9 billion asset credit union has more than 150,000 members.

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CU flashlight guides family in Italian earthquake

HARRISBURG, Pa. (12/27/12)--A flashlight from a Pennsylvania-based credit union, a gift to a 6-year-old, saved the day for a family stationed in Italy during an earthquake earlier this year.
 
The Mercer County Community FCU (MCCFCU), a $65.6 million asset credit union based in Hermitage, Pa., learned of the incident from a member, Connie George, whose family is stationed in Italy, said the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (Life is a Highway Dec. 18).
 
Richard and Kelly George Blagg and their family were awakened early one morning when their house in Ferrara, Italy, began shaking, said PCUA. Outside it sounded like bombs going off and glass breaking. The area was experiencing an earthquake.
 
The power was out, and the family had difficulty finding their way through the house. However, 6-year-old Titus reached under his pillow for his MCCFCU flashlight he had received as a gift.
 
The flashlight helped guide them through the house as they found their passports and important items before going outside to safety. 
 
When the quake subsided, their house was still standing, but in need of some cleaning, said PCUA.

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CNBS to provide Malawian student internship

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (12/27/12)--CNBS, a securities brokerage and investment advisory firm serving the credit union community, announced it will provide a 12-month internship to a Malawian student, Christopher Hamera, in 2013.
 
Hamera, 25, is a student at Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe, and is majoring in economics. His home is in Blantyre, Malawi.
 
Malawi, a land-locked country in sub-Saharan Africa, is the fifth-poorest nation in the world. Roughly 85% of the 14 million Malawians residing in the country are subsistence farmers. However, since the 1970s, Malawi has had a credit union system, which is improving access to financial services and contributing to members' financial stability.
 
There are about 30 credit institutions in Malawi--called Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs). The SACCOs have their own trade association, the Malawi Union of Savings and Credit Cooperatives organized in 1980. Sylvester Kadzola, president/CEO of MUSCCO, is on the board of directors of the World Council of Credit Unions, and is supportive of CNBS' internship program.
 
"Christopher's internship will focus on credit unions and other financial institutions, the securities markets, and central banking," said Brian Hague, CNBS president. "His long-term career objective is to lead the Reserve Bank of Malawi (Malawi's central bank), and he hopes his internship will lead to career opportunities within the country's SACCO system."

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CU System briefs

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Market News

MADISON, Wis. (12/27/12)

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News of the Competition

MADISON, Wis. (12/27/12)

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Fees coming to a checkout near you

SAN FRANCISCO (12/26/12)--Consumers could soon see checkout fees for using credit cards at brick-and-mortar businesses and online merchants alike. A July settlement among nine major banks, Visa, and MasterCard gives merchants the right to pass the costs of processing credit card transactions on to consumers through checkout fees (Consumer Action Dec. 13).
 
Here are steps you can take to avoid checkout fees:

Consumer Action recently published an online guide with information about checkout fees on its knowyourcard.org website.
 
For related information, listen to the Home & Family Finance Radio segment "Credit and Debit Cards: A Way of Life" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.
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Survive holidays on budget with H&FF Radio

WASHINGTON (12/26/12)--Last Sunday's H&FF Radio prepared listeners for the holidays with party, charitable giving, and shopping tips.
 
The show, which you also can hear later via the Internet, features Paul Berry, Washington, D.C., journalist and broadcaster, discussed these topics with special guests:

Home & Family Finance is a resource center for personal finance information at the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). The radio show is sponsored by CO-OP Network, the national credit union ATM network; Cabot Creamery Cooperative, maker of award-winning cheddar; and the Defense Credit Union Council and member credit unions, serving those who serve the country worldwide.
 
Home & Family Finance airs Sundays at 3 p.m. ET on the Radio America Network. The show also is carried on American Forces Radio Network. The one-hour program devoted to consumer finance issues is brought to you by America's credit unions and their 90 million members, and is presented by CO-OP Network.
 
CUNA and Radio America are podcasting Home & Family Finance through iTunes, Podcast Alley, Odeo, and other popular podcast library sites, as well as on Radio America and CUNA's websites.

For related information, read "Holiday alert: Steer clear of CyberScrooge" and "Create a Spending Plan for a Special Holiday" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.
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Xtend wraps up big year, announces dividend

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (12/27/12)--Xtend Inc., a credit union service organization (CUSO) in Michigan, says it had the largest sales year in its 10-year history, with revenue for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 totaling $1.68 million.
 
The Grand Rapids, Mich.-based CUSO said the figure eclipses its previous high of $1.52 million after its 2011 campaign.
 
Xtend President Scott Collins noted the milestone, which is a 10.2% year-on-year revenue growth. "We experienced a sales increase in every one of our business units during the year, with most reaching double-digit growth numbers," Collins said.  That and managing its expenses allowed the company to "finish the year right on budget from a net-income standpoint."
 
Because of the successful 2012 fiscal campaign, Xtend's Board of Directors has declared a 4% stock dividend to its owners. Collins said the dividend is the CUSO's third consecutive dividend and its largest.
 
Xtend, which is 100% owned by 69 credit unions, serves more than 150 credit unions. It provides managerial, operational, marketing, technical planning and consulting services for credit unions of all sizes.
 

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