Dissatisfaction with the federal government was running high during the National Association of Federal Credit Union's chief executive officer conference last month.

High on the gripe list of the more than 100 attendees during the Jan. 25-26 meeting: A proposed investment rule that would require vastly more reporting and more board involvement in investment decisions.

The executives charged that the National Credit Union Administration's proposal demands too much investment knowledge and involvement from the industry's volunteer boards, and is too costly in terms of time and money.

"Are our board members really going to know all about these investments?" asked Marcus Schaefer, chief executive of AT&T Family Employees Federal Credit Union, Winston-Salem, N.C. "It's not realistic to expect our volunteer members to understand all the details about our investments that we need to stay competitive."

Lafayette Federal Credit Union CEO Robert Brooks, a frequent critic of the NCUA, seconded that objection.

"Most of our directors can't remember what they approved last month if it wasn't written down," he said.

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When the Arlington, Va., trade association held its CEO conference last year, the air was thick with apprehension over the fate of Capital Corporate Federal Credit Union.

The federal government eventually shuttered the Lanham, Md., corporate, but that only created new potential conflicts. There are rumblings that depositors who lost money will sue the regulator; conversely, many expect the regulator to target third parties - including NAFCU members who were on Cap Corp's board.

Trade group president Ken Robinson has complained in the past that the regulator has not given a timetable for its pursuit of claims. He said here that NCUA General Counsel Robert M. Fenner told him that the agency will determine litigation targets by the middle of the year.

"They will be setting down what is the potential for a successful suit and potential recoveries," Mr. Robinson said.

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Dealing with combative NCUA Chairman Norman E. D'Amours isn't easy, Mr. Robinson told his members.

But he said the trade group tries to be more obliging than its rival, the Credit Union National Association, which has engaged in pitched brawls with the regulator.

"If we tilt at windmills, we're going to get shut out and we're not going to be able to do things we can do now," he said. "But that doesn't mean being a doormat."

"We know he can't be pushed and we don't think he can be led, but he can be swayed," Mr. Robinson added. "We try to use logic, but sometimes that doesn't work."

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