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ATLANTA – Georgia credit unions are optimistic that the state’s Department of Banking & Finance’s reputation for fairness and integrity will be upheld when Robert Braswell becomes the new Commissioner on Dec. 1. Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA) met with Braswell during a dinner reception and breakfast meeting the week of Nov. 14 to get to know him. Braswell, who has been with the department for 19 years, succeeds David Sorrell, who is retiring on Dec. 1 as Commissioner after serving for 34 years in this role and in several other capacities. “We have spent a great deal of time with the department. The department has always been fair and open to discussions with credit unions,” said Cindy Connelly, GCUA senior vice president/association services. Along with GCUA, Cooperative Services Inc., GCUA Service Corp., Georgia Central CU and Swirl, LLC, which manages several jointly owned credit union shared service centers, also met with Braswell and Sorrell. Connelly said she is confident that Braswell will continue that tradition of fairness describing him as an “honest” man. Prior to his new role, he had served as the Department’s deputy commissioner for mortgage since August 2003 and a district director from April 1997 to July 2003. The first 19 years of his career at the Department included serving as a supervisory examiner for credit unions and banks from October 1993 to March 1997 as well as in various other examiner positions. Braswell said his top priorities in the new role will be reacquainting himself with leadership in not only the credit union and banking industries but also state-chartered trust companies, mortgage brokers and lenders, check cashers, and other areas that are regulated by the Department. He also plans to continue to increase lenders’ awareness of their roles and responsibilities in preventing mortgage fraud. “Georgia is number one in the nation for mortgage fraud and while we can’t address the issue by ourselves, we’re certainly one piece in the puzzle that can help,” Braswell said. An uneasy feeling probably went through some Georgia credit unions that read a Nov. 14 Atlanta Business Chronicle article which said Braswell had considered credit union field of membership expansion one of his top priorities. While the article did not indicate what that actually meant, Braswell said it sent the wrong perception. “I was coming out of a meeting on a credit union’s pending application when I was asked `what were my top priorities,’” Braswell explained. “At that time, I was referring to this specific application being my priority (right then). We don’t dissuade or favor expansion. Our job as regulators is to enforce the law.” That means, he went on, not favoring any one industry over another. “Any application that comes in – be it field of membership – we will take a look at it and whether it applies to the letter of the law,” Braswell said. Connelly said she had met briefly with Braswell several times before but the recent reception was the first time there was a longer opportunity to get to know him. She reiterated what the new Commissioner has said. “He said his job will be to see to it that the laws that the legislature passed will be (upheld) fairly,” Connelly said. One of those laws will be modernization of the state’s Credit Union Act, which passed in 2004 and became a part of the Department’s housekeeping bill. Connelly said GCUA “spent a great deal of time” with the regulator when the new law was written. Of his predecessor, Braswell admits he “has big shoes to fill.” “He was fair, progressive, respected throughout the state and nation and was an excellent leader and mentor,” Braswell said. “Personally, he’s a very good friend. Braswell hopes to have most of his priorities fulfilled by the time the state’s legislative session starts in January 2006. [email protected]

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