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SALT LAKE CITY – More Utah credit unions-with estimates as high as 20-could start the conversion process to federal charter this month, it was disclosed here. Officials of the Utah League of Credit Unions would only confirm that “there could be more announcements shortly,” but industry sources said applications to NCUA are being readied across the state by both small and medium size institutions. “I’d say 20 might be stretching it, but maybe there are six seriously looking at it,” said Steven Christensen, chairman of the League and president of Tooele Federal Credit Union. The state has 87 state-chartered CUs. Little more than a month ago, three large Utah CUs – America First CU and Goldenwest, both of Ogden, and Mountain America CU of Salt Lake City – all made the switch winning NCUA approval over complaints of the Utah Bankers Association that the NCUA exceeded authority be granting wide FOM expansion for multiple-county branching. Christensen said the decision by Utah CUs to convert “is a confidential matter” and some he said are reluctant to make the move without considering all factors. “They don’t want to burn their bridges,” he said. Michael Milovich, vice chairman of the League and president of Carbon Credit Union in Price, said his CU is one that is “definitely exploring” a conversion application. “You can’t operate a business like this never knowing from day to day what’s below your feet and exactly what the bankers will do to you next,” declared Milovich, While acknowledging the flight from state charter following the banker-tax brawl, League officials have stated their eagerness to maintain a “strong dual chartering system” in Utah, pledging to work with a state legislature task force slated to meet June 19. That task force has one of its topics to consider a future tax on state-charters. Brooke Moea’i, senior vice president at ULCU, said the League expects to work with the Financial Institution Task Force to “help make things better and create an effective meaningful environment for credit unions.” Christensen of Tooele Federal said he will be attending the June 19 meeting, but Milovich expressed frustration at the legislature’s often hostile attitude toward CUs. “I can’t imagine what the Task Force can discuss now that three of the top credit unions have already converted,” he said. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the American Bankers Association in Washington said it is still “considering our options” relating to Utah CU conversions and a possible legal challenge to NCUA’s FOM rulings in Utah. Christensen said it is well known that “under open disclosure the ABA has asked to see all the applications” for Utah conversions submitted to the NCUA. “That is standard practice,” said Christensen. -

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