DENVER -- With millions at stake, credit unions began lining up before a U.S. Bankruptcy Court here last week to make claims against Centrix Financial, LLC, the troubled subprime indirect lender that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Sept. 19. The actual number of CUs making claims remained unclear last week, but documents filed in a Reno court two weeks ago list 21 CUs owed $25 million in unsecured claims and are counted in a creditor group of the 30 largest creditors.
The 21 CUs have claims ranging from the highest, $6.1 million owed to Credit Union of Texas in Dallas, down to $440,000 by Allegacy Federal Credit Union of Winston-Salem, N.C.
Others in the group and amount owed include: Corporate America Family Credit Union, Elgin, Ill. $3.1 million; Velocity Credit Union, Austin, Texas, $1.7 million; Mission Federal Credit Union, San Diego, $1.4 million; Security Service Federal Credit Union, Colorado Springs, Colo., $554,000; Eastern Financial Florida Credit Union, Miramar, Fla., $1.2 million; Credit Union 1, Rantoul, Ill., $1.1 million; and United One Credit Union, Manitowoc, Wis., $1 million.
Also in the group: First Community Credit Union, Houston, $900,000; Connexus Credit Union, Wausau, Wis., $987,000; Memphis Area Teachers' Credit Union, Memphis, Tenn., $730,000; Arizona Central Credit Union, Phoenix, $680,000; Southwest Oklahoma Credit Union, Lawton, Okla., $504,000; Texas Partners Federal Credit Union, Killeen, Texas, $913,000; Advancial Federal Credit Union, Dallas, $444,000; First Financial Federal Credit Union, West Covina, Calif., $762,000; and Midwest United Credit Union, Blue Springs, Mo., $477,000.
The list of creditors was prepared by Centrix as part of its debtor documents filed with a Reno bankruptcy judge who accepted a creditors' motion made on short notice to move the case to Denver, considered a more favorable venue for creditors.
"The full schedule of Centrix creditors will now be presented to the Bankruptcy Court here once the final paperwork is completed on the switch to Denver," a process that could take several days, explained Donald Allen, an attorney with the Denver firm of Block Marcus & Williams, representing one of the claimants, the $296 million New Horizons Credit Union.
That Denver CU was placed under NCUA conservatorship by Colorado regulators in April, after it experienced large loan losses including Centrix subprime.
Allen said the debtors' schedule filed by Centrix showed New Horizons owed $3.3 million "but the actual figure is $7 million" and new documents should reflect the higher figure.
It was uncertain if the debts as posted in the Centrix list as owed to other CUs among the 30 largest unsecured creditors would also increase as the beleaguered firm prepares a complete list of debtor documents for the bankruptcy court.
Meanwhile, the climactic filing of the court papers by Centrix triggered heightened industry concern, both public and private, about further CU losses and delinquencies as the firm struggles to keep up with servicing of its portfolio for as many as 230 CUs across the U.S.
While Centrix had filed its Chapter 11 paperwork in Reno, three large creditors including two leasing affiliates of banks filed an involuntary petition for $4.5 million in the Denver bankruptcy court to force the financial reorganization. These creditors included IFC Credit, LLC of Amonk, N.Y., Suntrust Leasing of Baltimore and Wells Fargo Equipment Leasing.
Centrix, which insisted again last week that it would honor its servicing agreements for participating CUs, had said that its petition in the Nevada court was part of the company's "previously announced intention" to sell the firm to a Boston investor group, Falcon Investment Advisors and its insurer, Everest Reinsurance Holdings of Liberty Center, N.J.
Under that plan, owner and founder Robert Sutton would become a minority shareholder in the firm. Just how or whether the sale would go through as accepted by the court was also unclear.
The 21 CUs named on the Centrix list withheld any formal comment on their claims.
However, because of the public record on NCUA's conservatorship of New Horizons, officials of that Denver CU confirmed that its total portfolio of Centrix loans was $58 million, but claims in the court were on unpaid loans.
Andy Baumann, the acting CFO of New Horizons and a Columbus, Ohio consultant hired by NCUA, said bringing the case back to Denver from Reno "should be helpful to all credit unions" including New Horizons.
Chris Myklebust, the Colorado CU commissioner, said he knew of no other Colorado CU in the same bind on Centrix loans as New Horizons, maintaining that "money can be made on indirect loans provided a carefully executed plan is followed."
In the Reno court, Judge Gregg Zive said Centrix could continue to pay its employees and use existing funds. Centrix said it will continue servicing $1.9 billion of the nearly $4 billion in loans it has made during its eight-year history. --firstname.lastname@example.org