Credit union groups file amicus brief supporting FOM appeal

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A trio of national credit union groups have banded together to file an amicus brief supporting the National Credit Union Administration in the U.S. Court of Appeals.

The National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions, Credit Union National Association and CUNA Mutual Group signed the brief, which is part of an ongoing action originally brought by the American Bankers Association. The ABA filed a lawsuit disputing NCUA's interpretation of Federal Credit Union Act requirements for community-based credit unions as amended by the 1998 Credit Union Membership Access Act.

The court earlier this year struck down two of the four provisions in the FOM rule the NCUA board passed in October 2016. Last week, NCUA filed its brief for the appeal.

As reported by Credit Union Journal, the brief asserts Congress “explicitly designated” NCUA would have the authority to define field of membership areas within the Federal Credit Union Act “and nothing within the challenged definitions is manifestly contrary to the statute.”

NCUA’s 80-page brief includes background on the issues and details on the NCUA’s definitions of what constitutes a rural district, local community and combined statistical area, all of which pertain to how credit unions would define broadened fields of membership within the confines of the rule.

In a statement released late Thursday, CUNA, NAFCU and CUNA Mutual Group characterized the ABA’s suit as an attempt to halt continued membership growth at the nation’s CUs.

“This lawsuit is a clear and transparent attempt by bank lobbyists to hamstring credit unions’ ability to help more American consumers,” NAFCU President and CEO Dan Berger said in a press release Thursday.

Those sentiments were echoed by Jim Nussle, president and CEO of the Credit Union National Associaiton.

“As the federal regulator for credit unions, it is vital NCUA have the authority to interpret relevant statutes and modernize its regulations as needed to help credit unions better serve their members while maintaining safety and soundness,” he said

For its part, CUNA Mutual pointed to a history of defending credit union FOM interests, most notably the Credit Union Campaign for Consumer Choice in the late 1990s.

“We felt compelled to continue that support by joining forces with CUNA and NAFCU as well as retaining the services of highly respected attorney, Eugene Scalia, at the outset of the case. We are proud to continue that effort by working with NAFCU and CUNA in filing this amicus brief in support of NCUA’s appeal,” said president and CEO Robert N. Trunzo.

The credit union groups originally filed an amicus brief supporting NCUA's FOM rule last June. The three organizations said they have “fervently pushed back against the banking lobbyists’ baseless attempts to hinder credit unions from growing their market and stand behind the NCUA's decision to issue the final rule, which was the first meaningful update to the agency's FOM rules over the past decade.”

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Field of membership Court cases Disputes and judgments Growth strategies Jim Nussle Dan Berger NCUA CUNA CUNA Mutual Group NAFCU American Bankers Association Washington DC