NCUA's Call Report Fines Prompt Mixed Reactions
The NCUA’s decision to impose penalties against federally insured credit unions that fail to meet filing deadlines for call reports has received a mixed reaction from credit union CEOs.
Jim Norris, CEO at the $94 million Montgomery County Employees Federal Credit Union in Germantown, Md., told Credit Union Times that he was angry when he first read about the penalties.
“Then I’m thinking a little bit and I’m like, ‘this doesn’t even affect me or our credit union because we’re always on time.’ I can’t even imagine a time when we’re going to be late,” Norris said. “As I got more information I saw the number of credit unions that were actually late on their 5300s and I was very surprised at that,” he added.
Norris said he does not understand why credit unions are having trouble meeting the deadlines.
“I can see that if it’s a smaller credit union and they’re volunteer run, in that case, maybe there’s some issues but for larger credit unions that have professional staff, I really don’t see an instance where it’s okay to be late,” he said.
According to the NCUA, more than 1,000 federally insured credit unions of all sizes filed call reports late for the third quarter of 2013.
NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz said the goal is to get compliance.
“If there was a better way, I would like for somebody to tell me what it is because we have been warning credit unions and discussing this issue with them for a very long time,” Matz told Credit Union Times on Thursday.
Credit unions that missed the Jan. 24, 2014 deadline will be issued warnings but the agency will assess fines of up to $1 million per day if the April 25 deadline is missed.
The amounts of the civil money penalties are defined under the Federal Credit Union Act in three tiers, according to the NCUA’s letter to credit unions.
- Up to a maximum of $2,000 per day “may be assessed for each day a required report is minimally late or contains uncorrected false/misleading information if the late or false/misleading filing is unintentional and the credit union has reasonable procedures in place to avoid such errors.”
- The fine goes up to a maximum of $20,000 per day if a required report is late or contains false/misleading information and is not covered by the unintentional safe harbor outlined in the first category.
- Up to a maximum of $1 million (or 1% of total assets, whichever is less) per day may be assessed if a credit union “knowingly or with reckless disregard for accuracy submits a false or misleading report and fails to correct it.”
Jim Blaine, president/CEO of the $26.8 billion State Employees’ Credit Union in Raleigh, N.C., said the NCUA picked the worst solution to a simple problem.
“It would appear that NCUA went out of its way to choose the worst possible solution to a seemingly simple problem,” Blaine told Credit Union Times.
“Not sure what killing an ant with a sledgehammer proves,” he added.
David Osborn, president/CEO of the $1.4 billion Anheuser-Busch Employees’ Credit Union in St. Louis, shared a different view.
“I’m sure that small credit unions have issues with getting their call reports done on time, but it’s not an issue for us. From NCUA’s position, they would like to have all the reports done by a certain date so that they can begin analyzing the data and report to outside organizations,” Osborn told Credit Union Times.
“Sometimes it takes fines to get people to meet the requirements. If credit unions get their call reports done on time, there won’t be any fines,” he added.
Mary Dunn, CUNA senior vice president and deputy general counsel, said the penalties are unnecessary.
“We do not agree these penalties are necessary. Education and awareness of reporting requirements should be the keys to addressing problems not punitive charges borne ultimately by the members,” Dunn said.
NAFCU has called the penalties extreme.
“NAFCU supports timely filings. However, on their face, the maximum penalties NCUA is permitted to assess seem extreme,” said NAFCU Director of Regulatory Affairs Michael J. Coleman.
“NAFCU will be seeking additional feedback from our members on issues they may be having with filing and if changes are needed, urges the NCUA to continue to look at other avenues, such as changes to the instructions to the call report, in lieu of penalties. Credit unions continue to face significant regulatory burden,” he added.