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WASHINGTON – CUNA has adopted a more activist and proactive approach to the question of credit unions seeking to change their charters to those of mutual banks. Acting in part on the steadily rising interest in the question, the CUNA Board has authored a new policy on the controversial question. The new policy (see sidebar) enunciates seven principals which have generally been announced previously and adds five new specific areas upon which CUNA staff can work. The board adopted the new policy at its June 16 meeting in Madison. Among the most interesting parts of the new proposal are the attempt to mandate some more time for public discussion and comment into the process of evaluating charter change decisions and the effort to try to eliminate the possibility of “unjust enrichment” in the process. Credit union members that have gone through the often bruising charter change fights have often expressed a desire for having more time and a space to conduct discussions with other credit union members about the possibility of a charter change. And Dick Ensweiler, CUNA Chairman and CEO of the Texas CU League, said there were a number of possible avenues through bylaw changes that credit unions could use to try to prevent boards or executives from cashing in on conversions with stock offerings based on members’ equity. Reaction to the new policy has been uncharacteristically muted. Jim Blaine, CEO of the $13 billion State Employees’ Credit Union, headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, praised the policy change but said it was only a part of the series of changes, some of them nationwide, that need to be made as this issue continued to grow. The Coalition for Credit Union Charter Options-the organization formed to promote charter conversions and which is advised by former credit union executives which have become bankers-also remained quiet. “We don’t like it, but we have decided not to say anything about it just now,” explained Lee Bettis, CCUCO executive director. -

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