The National Credit Union Administration assigned Kent Buckham — who was moved aside as chief corporate credit union examiner amid last year's implosion of two such institutions — to be the first director of its Office of Consumer Protection.

The office will begin operations in January. It will monitor credit union compliance with consumer rules and regulations and investigate consumer complaints, the agency said Friday.

Buckham was director of the NCUA's Office of Corporate Credit Unions for six years, during a time when the NCUA had on-site examiners at U.S. Central Federal Credit Union and WesCorp Federal Credit Union five days a week.

He was removed from that job last November as the financial condition of both credit unions declined. He was assigned to head the agency's National Examination Team, which was put in charge of monitoring special cases of large troubled credit unions. The special team is being disbanded, the NCUA said last week.

NCUA board member Michael Fryzel came up with the idea of the consumer protection office during his year as chairman. It is being created as Congress is debating the idea of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency to conduct the same functions. The NCUA and the credit union lobby are hoping pending legislation on the CFPA will exempt credit unions from being examined. If not, the NCUA's new office will serve as a liaison with the proposed CFPA.

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