ARLINGTON, Va.– A possible departure of Washington Mutual from the ranks of institutions overseen by the U.S. Office of Thrift Supervision may tarnish the appeal of the federal thrift charter, according a leading charter change consultant.

"No doubt the thrift charter right now is taking a real drubbing," commented Alan Theriault, CEO of CU Financial Services, a leading consultant for credit unions seeking to convert to mutual banks. The loss of Washington Mutual may cause further doubts about the role of the thrift charter in the financial system going forward, Theriault observed.

On the other hand, Theriault added that the agency is still functioning and may be even more open to others either launching thrift charters or converting to them.

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