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Washington State Mulls Private Dep. Insurance

OLYMPIA, Wash.-Washington has become the second state this year to begin deliberations on the reintroduction of private deposit insurance for state-chartered credit unions.

The Department of Financial Institutions said it has begun the process of defining the terms and identifying requirements of private insurance, more than a decade after the state's private insurer, known as Washington CU Share Guarantee Association, wound down its business and liquidated. The Washington fund was one of more than a dozen credit union funds around the country that closed down after the debacle following the 1991 failure of Rhode Island Share and Deposit Indemnity Corp. and more than 30 of its privately insured credit unions, prompting a statewide bank holiday in Rhode Island.

But interest in the private deposit insurance option has been rekindled in recent years, and just last month Texas, which also had its own private insurance fund until the RISDIC crisis, approved Ohio-based ASI to insure its state-chartered CUs. Washington's DFI said several credit unions and the Washington CU League have inquired about reviving the private insurance option. The DFI is inviting interested parties to participate in the rulemaking process.

MasterCard, VISA Pay $366M Settlement

NEW YORK-Credit card giants MasterCard Worldwide and Visa USA announced they and several other credit card companies have agreed to pay $336 million to settle a class action suit alleging the card companies manipulated currency rates when charging customers on international transactions. MasterCard has agreed to pay $72.4 million in the case, as well as another $13.4 million to settle a related suit. The other card companies agreeing to make payments are Visa, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase (Bank One/First USA), Citibank, Diners Club, HSBC/Household, MBNA and Washington Mutual/Providian.

No Power Outages Reported

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif.- Although an ongoing heat wave in California was again stressing the state's electrical grid, the California CU League reported it was unaware of any credit unions that had lost power due to the electricity crunch The California Independent System Operator (ISO) was forced to call a Stage 2 power alert July 24, raising the possibility of rotating outages. The state was plagued by these outages, also known as "rolling blackouts," during the electricity crisis in 2000 and 2001. However, conservation managed to keep the power demand below the system's capacity. Some neighborhoods in the greater Los Angeles area lost power when transformers overloaded due to extreme demand.

MEMBERS Mutual Funds Expand

MADISON, Wis.-CUNA Mutual Group announced it is one of the first investment companies to take advantage of a new Securities and Exchange Commission ruling that will allow it to mix its core MEMBERS Mutual Fund menu with funds of other fund companies in a single portfolio. MEMBERS Mutual Funds will become among the first investment houses to offer asset allocation funds that combine internal proprietary funds with external funds, beginning on July 31. This type of asset allocation fund, known as a 'Fund of Funds,' is a mutual fund that invests in other mutual funds.

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