Former credit union regulator Robert H. Swan on Thursday charged the Justice Department with jeopardizing the independence of all financial regulators.

Mr. Swan, who is suing President Clinton over his removal as a director of the National Credit Union Administration, derided the Justice Department's position that the President has the power to remove financial regulators at independent agencies such as the NCUA, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and the Federal Reserve Board.

The government's brief in the case states that the "regulation of financial institutions generally is not an area that Congress has shielded from Presidential policy control."

"This is a shocking position," Mr. Swan said in a statement issued Thursday. "We are either independent financial regulators, or we are subject to the political whims of whoever occupies the White House."

Mr. Swan sued President Clinton on April 23, charging he was illegally removed from the agency's board. Mr. Swan's term expired last summer, but he continued to serve because the White House had not nominated a replacement.

While Congress was in recess over Easter, President Clinton appointed banking lawyer Yolanda Wheat to the NCUA board. In its brief, Justice argues that the President was well within his legal rights. Mr. Swan, the briefs states, "simply is not entitled to any relief."

A decision from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is expected by June 20, Mr. Swan said.

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