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WASHINGTON-The key banking and credit union regulatory agencies have said that their working relationship is not strained by bank and credit union differences. FDIC Vice Chair John Reich submitted written testimony for House and Senate hearings on regulatory relief last month in which he stated that credit unions should be taxed and have to comply with Community Reinvestment Act requirements. FDIC Chairman Don Powell has made similar remarks in addresses to banking trade associations. “It’s not uncommon for regulators to have differing opinions on certain subjects.but that does not in anyway impair the working relationship,” FDIC Assistant Director of Public Affairs David Barr told Credit Union Times. He added that those statements are not necessarily agency policy, either. CUNA has written Reich contradicting his statements and questioning their appropriateness. “The vice chair has yet to respond to the letter from CUNA and will not respond in the press but directly to Mr. Mica,” Barr said. He added, “Remember, this is a letter from a trade association. I wouldn’t read into things that there is a riff between the regulators on this.” Barr queried whether the agency had responded publicly to the FDIC official’s comments. NCUA Chairman JoAnn Johnson said she does plan to write Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) to “clarify misstatements” that were made by Reich. “Actually, I was kind of surprised to see those comments in the testimony,” she said. NAFCU has already written Shelby. But, overall, Johnson noted that all the regulators are part of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council and she is glad NCUA is given “a full voice at the table.” When asked if relations were strained between the banking and credit union agencies, NCUA Board Member Debbie Matz responded, “I don’t think so. I have nice personal relationships with some of the banking regulators.” In fact, she pointed out that she had worked well with Reich when he served on the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation board. Matz said if she had the opportunity, she would discuss his remarks with him, but the issues have not come up between them. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has not taken an official position on the FDIC’s statements, according to OCC Spokesperson Kevin Mukri. However, he said, “We’re always looking for an equal playing field for all financial institutions.Obviously, we’re big proponents of national banks as I’m sure NCUA is a big proponent of credit unions.” Mukri also pointed out, “We frequently discuss and come out with joint guidance on issues.The relationship seems OK.” The Office of Thrift Supervision has had a recent disagreement with NCUA as well over the conversion processes of Community Credit Union and OmniAmerican Federal Credit Union to become mutual savings banks. The thrift regulator has found Community in compliance with the necessary regs, while NCUA has promised to invalidate the count because it feels the institution’s disclosures were not up to NCUA standards. NCUA Chairman Johnson stated, “It’s important for us as a regulator to do the right thing and see where they want to take that.” Will the whole mess end up in the courts? “Possibly,” she said. Matz agreed, “As regulators, we have the right to say the way things ought to be done. Credit unions may not always like that.” She pointed out that they were advised to change their disclosures but chose not to make the corrections. Matz said a lawsuit could cost more than if they had changed their disclosures to begin with, whether they agreed or not. Still, OTS Managing Director of External Affairs Kevin Petrasic said, “Yes, we do [have a good working relationship with NCUA]. I have numerous friends at NCUA and Acting Director Ric Riccobono has a good relationship with the chairwoman.” [email protected]

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