MCU's Actions After 9/11 a Good Business Decision for Members
The arrest of Municipal Credit Union members makes the news again, so I would like to rearrange the perspective. We all remember the sights of 9/11 and will never forget them. MCU's headquarters at 22 Cortlandt Street was 500 feet east of the World Trade Center. As the attack started, management quickly decided to evacuate the staff, who all survived. Later in that awful day, the most northerly WTC building-7 World Trade Center (7 WTC) collapsed. As the steel fell about 50 stories on the west side of 7 WTC, it pierced the ground and cut all communications for lower Manhattan below Canal Street. The government of the City of New York had to transfer to its "hot site" (the same site as MCU, so guess who kept the site). MCU's software vendor, AFTEC, came through and allowed MCU to operate from their facility. A decision was made to allow the New York Cash Exchange (NYCE) to dispense $200 per day when an MCU ATM card was validated by password. There was a lag to when NYCE could report and MCU could record the transaction. Later, the daily amount was raised to $500 so members could meet expenses. When the ATM process was recaptured we knew that MCU had been relieved of more money than deposits by some members to about $17 million. It is important to understand many of our members had their lives turned upside down for several weeks; so informing them had to presume some confusion as the reason for the excess withdrawals. These members were given three choices: 1) Pay back in a lump sum; 2) Make payments and pay interest; or 3) Don't pay, and go to jail. MCU members brought in the cash, and are making payments. MCU members have repaid about two-thirds of the outstanding, and payments are being received and will for some time into the future. The real story is this - while a small number of members took money they didn't have on deposit, MCU paid out over $130 million to its members who had a right to it and got the service they expected. C. Richard Wagner Director Municipal Credit Union New York, N.Y.