NCUA Plan Allows CUs To Prepay Corp Charges

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ALEXANDRIA, Va.-The NCUA Board last week proposed a plan that would allow credit unions to prepay their annual assessments for the corporate credit union bailout, which they project will amount to $2.94 billion, or 38 basis points, for this year and next.

The prepayments would amount to an interest-free loan, eliminating the need for NCUA to borrow additional funds from the U.S. Treasury as billions of dollars in existing Treasury loans for the bailout come due and billions of dollars in so-called NCUA Guaranteed Notes used to finance the bailout mature. For example, $2 billion of the bailout bonds mature this October. NCUA has issued almost $28 billion of the bonds so far to finance the corporate bailout.

The hope is the prepayments would provide an additional pool of cash NCUA could use to finance the ongoing costs of the corporate bailout, including borrowing costs.

The benefits to credit unions participating in the plan would be negligible. It could result in lower costs for the bailout, thus lower assessments, and also allow credit unions to smooth out earnings by paying the projected assessments in advance.

NCUA said the prepayments, which would be voluntary, are modeled after an FDIC program that mandates banks and S&Ls prepay insurance fund assessments three years in advance.

Larry Fazio, deputy executive director for NCUA, said they have projected the corporate bailout costs to be about $8.4 billion through October of 2012.

The voluntary prepayment plan is contingent on several things, including the commitment of enough credit unions to participate.

Separately, the NCUA Board voted to bar all federally insured credit unions from entering into golden parachute severance agreements with executives at troubled credit unions, those rated either CAMEL 4 or CAMEL 5, undercapitalized or failed. Existing golden parachutes at those credit unions will be grandfathered and allowable. The rule does include an exception allowing troubled credit unions to offer bonuses to hire new management in a turn-around.

The new rule, said NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz, ensures that individuals who may have contributed to a credit union's financial distress or failed to act to prevent it "do not benefit on their way out."

The rule also bars credit unions from indemnifying credit union executives from penalties, fines and legal expenses incurred in civil administrative proceedings brought by NCUA or state regulators.

The rule applies to all federally insured natural person and corporate credit unions.

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