LAS VEGAS – NCUA Chairman JoAnn Johnson has left little doubt she is pushing ahead this year with regulatory relief on capital ratios for CUs but has no intent of “micro-managing” well-run institutions. In featured remarks before NAFCU’s annual conference, the NCUA chairman said while the agency “is actively engaged with Congress on capital improvement proposals requiring statutory changes,” it can make rule changes to lower RegFlex qualifying net worth from 9% to 7% for well capitalized institutions. She noted the agency was to meet in July to consider rule changes maintaining that “if we agree that 7% leverage is an unnecessarily high ratio for `well capitalized’ status under a system of risk-based prompt corrective action, then we should not set the bar even higher for RegFlex.” On a second capital relief proposal for low-income CUs, she said these institutions would have the option to release the portion of secondary capital that no longer counts as net worth. In another area, she again defended the agency’s denial of Community CU of Plano Texas to convert to a mutual savings bank and said NCUA is not engaged “in a turf battle” with proponents and the issue “is not about punishment.” Rather, the issue “for us as a regulator” she told the NAFCU gathering is about “protecting the right of members to be fully informed” when it comes time to vote. Repeating earlier criticism of CU managers and boards who would benefit financially from conversions, she said CUs have always been “about people helping people and not individuals who help themselves.” She said NCUA takes the entire conversion question seriously because “it understands the consequences” to the industry. Johnson also stressed the need to better inform congressmen on the conversion issue and its impact noting the tremendous confusion that exists among lawmakers who still have trouble distinguishing a bank from a CU. Overall, there is a need to bring “honesty, integrity and character” to the conversion process, she concluded. [email protected]

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