ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- NCUA has filed arguments with a federal court seeking to have a lawsuit brought by a banker led charter change group dismissed.
The suit was brought by Coalition for Credit Union Charter Options and argued against its regulations governing the CU-to-bank charter conversion process. The Coalition of Credit Union Charter Options is a banker led group that claims to include credit unions and lobbies in favor of credit union to bank charter change. The organization has never released its membership list or even revealed how many CUs it claims to have as members.
In its filing the agency challenged the suit on the grounds that the Coalition was complaining about regulations that had since been superseded and that the Coalition lacked standing to bring the case.
"In this case, CCUCO challenges not only the current regulations but also the prior versions of the regulations," NCUA argued in its brief. "Plaintiff's challenges to the 2004 and 2005 versions of the regulations are moot because those regulations are no longer in effect. They have been superseded by the regulations issued by NCUA in 2006. The new regulations substantially amended the previous regulations."
The agency cited examples of how the so-called boxed disclosure statements in its regulations have changed as the regulation has evolved and how the balloting requirements and when ballots may be sent have also shifted.
When the agency came to the argument against the CUCCO having any standing to bring the case, NCUA made the point no Coalition members had indicated any plan to convert or even any intention of doing so. The NCUA argued that the current interpretations of law indicated that a party had to really have suffered damage or show that such damage was immanent to have standing.
The agency cited a case where a group of environmentalists had sued to try to force the enforcement of laws protecting endangered species on the grounds that they faced possible damage if the species became extinct before they could travel to them in the wild.
"In this case...CCUCO has not made the required showing that any of its members are immediately in danger of sustaining any direct injury as a result of the challenged regulations," NCUA noted. "While CCUCO alleges that challenged regulations 'have made charter conversions more expensive to undertake and more difficult to complete,' it does not allege that any of its members have any immediate plans to convert to a mutual savings bank or that the regulations would prevent them from doing so.
Instead, CCUCO simply alleges that "[i]ts membership consists of federally-insured credit unions that seek to preserve charter choice for credit unions under reasonable rules and at a reasonable cost. In short, CCUCO's credit union members are similar to the members of the environmental groups in Lujan. Just as the plaintiffs in Lujan sought to preserve their 'options' to someday travel to see endangered species, the credit union members of CCUCO seek, in some vague and undefined way, to preserve their charter options. In fact, CCUCO's allegations are even weaker than they were in Lujan because CCUCO does not even allege that any of its credit union members in fact have any 'some day' plans to convert to a mutual savings bank."
The agency also noted that there is no indication that CUCCO members would have been damaged by the agency's regulations. For example, the CUCCO complained about the cost of the balloting process, but the agency noted that all agree that CU members needed to be given a ballot.
"Similarly, while the new regulations set forth a procedure for members to communicate their views to other members, this requirement does not impose any substantial cost to the credit union itself," the agency argued. "The regulation requires that the member requesting to send material to other members 'to reimburse the credit union for the reasonable expenses, excluding overhead, of mailing or e-mailing the materials and also provides the credit union with an appropriate advance payment.'"