WASHINGTON-The American Bankers Association sees no reason for the judge to dismiss its case against NCUA over the underserved areas the agency granted America First Federal Credit Union. ABA Director of Communications Charlotte Birch said that despite the moratorium NCUA has imposed on non-multiple common bond credit unions adopting underserved areas and the proposed rule seeking to concrete that action, the ABA sees no reason for dismissal. NCUA also stripped America First of its underserved areas. “However, I can tell you that while a motion to dismiss would not be unexpected, we see no grounds for dismissal,” she said. There is no word yet on NCUA’s next move in this case, but filings were due Feb. 2, after press time. The credit union trades have declined to file to intervene, as they have in some others-including in ABA vs. NCUA in Pennsylvania over the community charter approved two years ago for Member’s First Federal Credit Union-in the case thus far. While the Credit Union Membership Access Act (H.R. 1151) is silent on other types of credit unions adopting underserved areas, language submitted for the record in the legislative history by H.R. 1151 author Congressman Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) explicitly said that all types of credit unions should be able to add underserved areas to their fields of membership. The paths of NCUA, America First, and Judge Dale Kimball, who is presiding over the case, have crossed before. Kimball is the same judge who remanded the community charter of Tooele Federal Credit Union, and three others including America First, back to NCUA for further review. He was highly critical of NCUA’s acceptance of the credit union’s package in that case. America First then sought to regain much of the five counties dropped from its field of membership by adopting underserved areas. Birch declined to answer a couple of questions saying they were based on legal strategy, such as would the ABA pursue the other 200-plus non-multiple group credit unions that have adopted underserved areas. If the credit union lobby were to pursue legislative changes to the Federal Credit Union Act as amended by H.R. 1151, it could have a fight on its hands, according to Birch. “The Ways & Means Committee hearing made it clear that NCUA has done a poor job of measuring whether credit unions are fulfilling their mission of serving low- and moderate-income individuals,” she said. “It would seem presumptuous for the credit union industry to ask for an expansion of authorities when NCUA can’t even demonstrate that they are fulfilling their original mission.” She referred to a statement by ABA President and CEO Ed Yingling at the time of NCUA’s proposed regulation: “Even with the proposed change, a multiple group credit union could claim the entire city of Washington, D.C. as an underserved area and then only open a branch in Georgetown. That fulfills neither the intent of the law nor the mission of credit unions.” -

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