Is Bonds-Hunt Feud Behind Corporate America-Louisiana Corporate Merger Delay?
Is a feud between Corporate America CU CEO Thomas Bonds, who took a leave of absence from his post last month, and NCUA Office of Corporate Credit Unions Director Scott Hunt the reason behind the delay in NCUA approval of a merger between the $3.7 billion Corporate America and the $218 million Louisiana Corporate Credit Union?
Correspondence between the Alabama state credit union regulator and the NCUA says it might.
Fifteen months have passed since the two corporates announced their intent to pursue a merger. Despite approval in 2011 by the Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions and the Alabama Credit Union Administration, the NCUA has yet to approve it.
ACUA Administrator Larry Morgan expressed his concerns about the delay to NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz in a letter dated Oct. 24, 2011, and obtained by Credit Union Times.
In that letter, Morgan said both his office and the LOFI were contacted by the NCUA Office of Corporate Credit Unions Deputy Director David Shelter, who said the OCCU was “unwilling to consider the merger at this time,” citing supervisory issues at Corporate America.
The state regulator said it reviewed the actions taken by Corporate America and was pleased with the corporate’s progress.
However, Morgan said he had “serious concerns” with the tone of an Oct. 18, 2011 letter he read from Hunt to Corporate American Chairman Steve Nix. The tone conflicted with the verbal presentations made by NCUA staff and management during and after the supervisory visit, who had said the issues would be an easy fix.
Further thickening the plot, Morgan cited a complaint the ACUA made to the NCUA in September 2009 regarding an alleged threat by Hunt to Bonds that the “NCUA would not support CACU in any manner if (Bonds) continued to talk with the media” about corporate credit union issues.
Bonds spoke out against U.S. Central’s December 2008 solicitation PIC II funds, telling Credit Union Times in an Aug. 19, 2009 story the failed corporate threatened to cut off payment systems support to those who failed to participate.
“I do not believe Director Hunt can objectively act on any issue related to Corporate America due to the threat,” Morgan wrote. “It is our desire to respectfully request that the NCUA Board direct Agency management to allocate the requisite resources outside of Director Hunt’s control to conduct the merger review and forward a recommendation to the NCUA Board for consideration at its December 2011 meeting.”
The NCUA provided Credit Union Times a copy of the response letter, dated Nov. 15, 2011, that reveals that NCUA’s Office of Inspector General initiated a preliminary inquiry into the 2009 accusation by Bonds of threats by Hunt and interviewed appropriate OCCU staff.
“Based on the results of this inquiry, OIG found insufficient evidence to substantiate the allegation,” Chairman Matz said in the letter.
Bonds declined to comment. Other officials from Corporate America did not respond to requests for comment.
Louisiana Corporate President/CEO David Savoie said he was made aware of the correspondence as part of the due diligence process, but was not provided with a copy of the letters.