COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Based on recent history, no two credit union-to-bank conversions are alike, underscoring the need for groups strongly opposing the trend to keep up their guard, according to Wendell "Bucky" Sebastian, the chairman of the National Center for Member Trust.
Sebastian, taking part in meetings here of CO-OP Financial Services, maintained the conversion phenomenon continues to range from the placid switch by Think Federal Credit Union of Rochester, Minn. to the more contentious disputes and failed conversion attempts at Lafayette Federal Credit Union in Maryland and DFCU Financial Federal Credit Union in Michigan.
Regardless of where conversion bids surface, the National Center, which says it commands a wealth of legal and financial resources from CU supporters across the U.S., is ready to act, said Sebastian, who also is president/CEO of GTE Federal Credit Union of Tampa, Fla. and a member of the CO-OP board.
Think in Minnesota "went ahead without opposition but member-owners saw what was happening at Lafayette and DFCU and sprung up to object," argued Sebastian.
Sebastian, one of the industry's most vocal critics of conversions, said, "I haven't said this before now but I've concluded that directors of soon-to-be-converted credit unions are acting unethically by failing to fulfill their fiduciary duties when they pursue a mutual bank switch."
Their members joined a CU, not a bank and directors have a "clear mission" and obligation to follow their dictates, said Sebastian.
"It's all about the money, just show me the money," quipped Sebastian in citing the most publicized conversion attempts. Whatever the case, he added, there's little doubt that "just like fingerprints", none of the conversions bids are alike.
Sebastian told Credit Union Times he had no information on the most recent conversion bids by three medium size CUs, one in Utah and two in Massachusetts, but NCMT would join the anti-conversion campaign if asked by their members.
Asked about a pending bid by the $164 Beehive Credit Union of Salt Lake City, Sebastian said NCMT would respond with assistance if requested by individual CU members, "but not if it was
the Utah League" in concurrence with
established hands-off policies of CUNA and various state leagues.