NCUA chair responds to letter on how CUs serve members, businesses

According to League sources, two GOP members of Congress, Rep. Jeff Flake and Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, wrote a letter to the NCUA in mid-October about policies affecting how credit unions may serve certain members and businesses. This relates directly to the “Operation Choke Point” controversy that involved the United States Department of Justice and FDIC-insured institutions related to accounts owned by those legally selling firearms.

A response letter from NCUA chairman Rick Metsger clarifies NCUA’s view on how it intend to supervise potentially risky member relationships.

According to Metsger, “NCUA has not engaged in broad de-risking initiatives or activities with an individual institution or broadly through the credit union system. We did not participate in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Operation Choke Point,” going on to say NCUA encourages credit unions to take a risk-based approach in assessing individual customer relationships.

“Credit unions that can properly manage member relationships and effectively mitigate risks are neither prohibited nor discouraged from providing services to any category of member or individual members operating in compliance with applicable state and federal law,” Metsger explained.

Metsger said an August 2014 memorandum on the agency’s policy makes clear that the decision to open, close, or decline a particular account or relationship is generally made by a credit union, without the involvement of NCUA.

“Thus, NCUA does not dictate which businesses credit unions can serve, as long as these businesses are legal and within the credit union’s field of membership, and the credit union can serve them safely and soundly,” Metsger concluded.