NCUA 'abandoning' cabdrivers to debt collectors: N.Y. congressman

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Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., has criticized the National Credit Union Administration’s decision to sell a portfolio of medallion loans to a hedge fund.

Taxi drivers already have “little to no hope of ever paying off their debt” and the credit union regulator’s decision “compounds that hardship, abandoning them to debt collection practices that will squeeze them for every last dollar,” Meeks said in a statement on Thursday.

NCUA said last week that it would sell more than 4,000 taxi medallion loans from two failed credit unions to Marblegate Asset Management for a reported $350 million. The decision disheartened more than 60 cabdrivers who had traveled to NCUA’s Alexandria, Va., headquarters from New York City to lobby against any sale during the regulator’s regular monthly board meeting.

Meeks said he stands “strongly against NCUA’s decision” and urged “medallion owners to not abandon all hope for financial relief.” He noted that he had introduced legislation that would exempt medallion owners from tax liability if a lender did forgive their debt.

“Just as some banks are recognizing the unsustainable bubble of medallion debt and providing debt forgiveness, it is discouraging to see NCUA move in the opposite and wrong direction,” wrote Meeks, who represents parts of Queens and Nassau County.

A number of credit unions became heavily concentrated in taxi medallion lending, which proved disastrous after the medallions significantly lost value. Several institutions eventually failed or were forced to merge into other credit unions.

Banks have used the issue as a cudgel to criticize credit unions and NCUA’s oversight of the industry.

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