ALEXANDRIA, Va. — NCUA Board Chairman Debbie Matz told Credit Union Times that the time has come for home-based credit unions to move out of their homes.
Matz and Board Member Rick Metsger voted in support of a proposed rule that would prohibit FCUs from operating in homes. Board Member Michael Fryzel opposed the measure. The proposed rule includes a standard 30-day public comment period.
More Video CUTs from Dec. 12 Meeting:
Fryzel Says 'No' to Home-Based CU Restrictions
Metsger Explains His Positions
“The NCUA has a broad authority to implement this statute requiring us to oversee safety and soundness in credit unions and it’s not specific exactly in how we go about doing that but this comes under our broad authorities to regulate and insure credit unions,” Matz said in a video interview after the NCUA monthly board meeting on Thursday.
Matz said some home-based credit unions do not have email accounts or landline telephones, making it impossible for their members or the NCUA to contact them without appearing in person.
“We’re concerned about the protection of the records. Sometimes the records are kept in situations where they could accidently be damaged for instance if there’s a flood or some records are kept near hot water heaters. They’re not kept in fireproof containers,” she said.
Matz also expressed concern for the safety of the NCUA’s examiners.
“I don’t believe that examiners should be going into somebody’s private residence to examine their books. We’ve had examiners who have been bitten by dogs. We’ve had examiners working in conditions where they can’t control the thermostat so it’s very cold in winter, very hot in summer. In some cases, they’re not allowed to use the restroom at the home,” she said.
“I would not want to work under those conditions. I don’t know anybody else who would and we shouldn’t impose those conditions on our examiners,” she said. “So there are two very distinct reasons why I think it’s time for home-based credit unions to move out of their homes and move into accessible commercial facilities.”
Matz said home-based FCUs could also move into a community center, a church or a non-profit organization.
Court documents revealed that NCUA examiners found 10,000 rounds of ammunition and semi-automatic weapons in a storage room during their seizure of the $23.6 million Taupa Lithuanian Credit Union in Cleveland earlier in the year.
Credit Union Times asked Matz if the NCUA coordinates with local police departments when seizing a credit union or attempting to access important documents.
“We don’t coordinate in advance but of course in situations where the examiner feels that here’s a threat, at that point we do call in the local authorities and sometimes the national authorities,” she said. “There’s been instances where we’ve called in the FBI or the Secret Service but on a routine basis, we do not coordinate with local authorities before going into an institution.”
Matz was also asked why a risk-based capital rule was not included on the agenda for the December board meeting.
“This is a very complicated rule and we want to be sure to get it right. The idea will be to risk rate the capital so credit unions that are holding riskier capital on their books will have to hold higher capital levels,” Matz told Credit Union Times.
“It’s very complicated. The staff has been working diligently on it and they simply needed more time and we encouraged them to take the time that they need because we want to make sure they do get it right.”
Watch the full video with Matz above.