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Jurisdictional spat lingers over Farm Credit Lending

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WASHINGTON (1/17/08)—Jurisdictional feuding in Congress over possibly expanding the Farm Credit System’s lending authority continued this week in advance of a House-Senate conference on the 2007 farm bill. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Ranking Member Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), along with Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) and Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), sent a letter Tuesday to House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Ranking Member Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), and Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.). The letter acknowledged House and Senate rules provide the House Committee on Agriculture and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, respectively, with jurisdiction over farm credit matters. “However, jurisdiction over credit more generally is within the jurisdiction of the House Committee on Financial Services and the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs,” wrote the banking committees’ leaders. Neither House nor Senate farm bills currently contain proposals to expand the Farm Credit System’s lending authority, acknowledged the lawmakers, who reminded their colleagues of jurisdictional boundaries. “If you are pressed to consider such proposals during conference, however, we urge you to consult with the House Committee on Financial Services and the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs prior to taking any such action,” they wrote.

NCUA drops BSA cease and desist against CU

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (1/18/08)--The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Board said yesterday it has terminated a cease and desist order issued in July against Garden Savings FCU for violations of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). “The violations have been resolved and the credit union is now BSA compliant,” said the agency in a statement. Garden Savings, with $159 million in assets, was chartered in 1968 and has approximately 15,500 members in Parsippany, Whippany and Newark, according to the NCUA. The NCUA enforcement order issued July 3, 2007 detailed 20 areas demanding immediate attention by all directors, committee members, officers and employees. Garden Savings was ordered to engage "an individual or firm" that is a BSA/AML specialist as a consultant to help the credit union correct its deficiencies. The order also demanded that all required Currency Transaction Reports (CTRs) and Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) for past reportable activities be filed within 30 days of the NCUA's order. The credit union also was required to obtain Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) training for all officials "including, but not limited to, operation management, staff, and board members. It was required to hire a "competent, full-time BSA compliance officer with the delegated authority and necessary resources to implement and enforce BSA policies and procedures.

Fiduciary clarifications on NCUA board agenda

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (1/18/08)--The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) during its monthly board meeting on Thursday will consider clarifying its rules related to credit union board fiduciary responsibilities. While the agency has no specific proposal, it continues to consider how to better define a credit union board’s fiduciary duties in the face of major decisions, such as mergers or conversions to mutual thrifts. The Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is related to Parts 708a and 708b of NCUA’s “Rules and Regulations--Mergers, Conversion from Credit Union Charter, and Account Insurance Termination.” The agency will seek comments. Also on the agenda, the board will evaluate credit unions’ federal usury rate ceiling, which the Federal Credit Union Act requires every 18 months. The rate currently is set at 18%.

Inside Washington (01/17/2008)

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* WASHINGTON (1/18/08)--States should have been included in negotiations with the Treasury Department, Hope Now, servicers, lenders and investors regarding a fast-track loan modification program, said Richard Neiman, New York State banking superintendent, in a Dec. 11 letter to the Treasury (American Banker Jan. 17). The states should not be overlooked, because all market participants have a share of responsibility in the current situation, he wrote ... * WASHINGTON (1/18/08)—The House voted Thursday to reauthorize the HOPE VI housing program and to make a number of changes to the program meant to prevent the loss of affordable housing for those who need it. The HOPE VI Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2007 (H.R. 3524) requires, for instance, that all public housing units in existence as of January 2005 that are proposed for demolition must be replaced on a one-for-one basis. The bill also, among other things, requires public housing agencies to provide a mixed-income housing development on the site of the original public housing location in a manner resulting in a decrease in the concentration of poverty. In addition, public housing agencies must ensure that replacement units are provided in a manner that affirmatively furthers fair housing …