Johnson Defends NCUA Position On Communty, OmniAmerica

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No doubt feeling the heat from Congress as efforts to pass a bill reining in NCUA's authority over CU-to-bank conversions are afoot, NCUA Chairman JoAnn Johnson took the opportunity at NAFCU's annual meeting to defend the agency's position as the sole hold-out on the conversion of Plano, Texas-based Community CU, whose conversion has been approved by the board, the membership, the Texas regulator and the Office of Thrift Supervision.

"This is not about punishment, and this is not a turf battle," Johnson said. "We are all for protecting the right of the membership to vote to convert the credit union, but we are fighting hard for the right of the member to be informed when it comes time to vote."

The chairman also didn't pass up the chance to chastise what she called "pro-conversion" boards and management.

"Credit unions have always been about people helping people, not individuals who help themselves," she said.

Members of Congress weren't safe from Johnson's ire, either. "I have spent the last few weeks meeting with a variety of members of Congress, and it is clear they have no idea about what is at stake for members," she related. "They haven't a clue about the benefits of credit union membership and how that is different from being a bank."

Johnson gave NAFCU attendees a "homework" assignment on conversions. "I want you to think long and hard about integrity, character and honesty," she exhorted. "I feel very strongly that the [NCUA-required]disclosures are in the best interests of members. If there is nothing to hide, then there should be no fear of these disclosures."

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