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FinCEN asks for outside input on database changes

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WASHINGTON (1/27/11)--The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is seeking public comment on changes related to Designation of Exempt Person (DOEP) reports and unified Currency Transaction Report (CTR) filings. The changes are technical adjustments, and will not change any Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) regulatory requirements. Rather, FinCEN said, it is seeking "input on technical matters" as the agency transitions "from a system originally designed for collecting paper forms to a modernized IT environment for electronic reporting." The new database "will accept XML-based dynamic, state-of-the-art reports," and few changes to the existing batch and computer-to-computer filing processes will be made, FinCEN said. Under the BSA, financial institutions must file CTRs on any transaction in currency of more than $10,000. BSA rules, however, do allow exemptions for certain members, or customers. DOEPs may be filed by financial institutions that wish to exempt certain transactions from BSA reporting requirements. For the FinCEN releases, use the resource links.

CUNA to Congress Add MBL cap lift to job creation plans

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WASHINGTON (1/27/11)--Lifting the cap on credit union member business lending should be a key part of the economic recovery and job creation plans touted by the House Financial Services Committee and other members of Congress, Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney said in a letter sent ahead of Wednesday’s financial services hearing. The financial services committee yesterday held its first hearing of the 112th Congress, entitled “Promoting Economic Recovery and Job Creation: The Road Forward.” Academics and finance industry insiders testified during the hearing, which was led by committee chair Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.). Cheney in the CUNA letter said that “America’s credit unions and their 93 million members stand ready to be part of the solution to the economic problems our nation faces.” The letter also noted the Obama administration’s strong support for MBL-related legislation. A 2010 piece of legislation that was introduced by Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) would have lifted the MBL cap to 27.5% of total assets. CUNA has estimated that doing so would allow credit unions to lend an additional $10 billion to small businesses in the first year after implementation, helping them to create over 100,000 new jobs. “Credit unions do not need taxpayer money to lend to small businesses: they need the authority from Congress to do so,” Cheney added. The committee has tentatively scheduled a Feb. 17 hearing to study the Fed's planned implementation of interchange provisions. Other issues of interest to credit unions, including housing finance, monetary policy, and portions of Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reform rules, will be discussed by the full committee and various related subcommittees in the coming weeks.

Inside Washington (01/26/2011)

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* WASHINGTON (1/27/11)--The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted rules for shareholder approval of executive compensation and golden parachute compensation arrangements as required under the Dodd-Frank Act. The SEC's new rules specify that say-on-pay votes required under the Dodd-Frank Act must occur at least once every three years beginning with the first annual shareholders’ meeting taking place on or after Jan. 21. Companies also are required to hold a “frequency” vote at least once every six years to allow shareholders to decide how often they would like to be presented with the say-on-pay vote. Following the frequency vote, a company must disclose on SEC Form 8-K how often it will hold the say-on-pay vote. Under the SEC’s new rules, companies also are required to provide additional disclosure regarding golden parachute compensation arrangements with certain executive officers in connection with merger transactions … * WASHINGTON (1/27/11)--The 2008 financial crisis could have been avoided, and was created by a mix of government and corporate mismanagement and excessive risk on the part of Wall Street firms, according to a federal inquiry to be released today (The New York TimesJan. 26). The report, issued by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, finds fault with two presidential administrations, the Federal Reserve and other regulators for overseeing a disaster created by excessive risk, predatory lending and lax regulation. The 575-page report cites financial institutions for poor mortgage lending standards, excessive packaging and sale of loans, and risky bets on securities. The commission included 10 members, but was divided along party lines. The six members appointed by Democrats endorsed the final report. Three Republican members have issued a dissent that cites a narrower set of causes for the crisis. The fourth Republican member, Peter J. Wallison, prepared a separate dissent, calling government policies that promoted home ownership as the major cause of the crisis. The commission, which held 19 days of hearing and interviews with 700 witnesses, said it will release transcripts and other material online … * WASHINGTON (1/27/11)--The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has voted to adopt two sets of new rules designed to help revitalize the asset-backed securities (ABS) market by encouraging better disclosure for investors. The SEC approved one set of rules that requires issuers of asset-backed securities to disclose the history of the requests they received and repurchases they made related to their outstanding asset-backed securities. The commission also approved a second set of rules that would require issuers of asset-backed securities to conduct a review of the assets underlying those securities. “At one time, the securitization market provided trillions of dollars of liquidity to virtually every sector of the economy. However, during the financial crisis, ABS investors suffered significant losses, causing the market for securitization to rapidly decline,” said SEC Chairman Mary L. Schapiro. “These rational measures are designed to help revitalize the important asset-backed securities market by encouraging better disclosure for investors” …

Registration for Feb. 17 NCUA town hall begins

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (1/27/11)--The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) has opened registration for its upcoming "Virtual Town Hall," which will take place on Feb. 17. The town hall will address the agency's initiatives to reform the corporate credit union system, minimize costs to consumer credit unions, and promote financial literacy for credit union volunteers. NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz in a statement said that the meeting will provide “an ideal venue to listen, to learn and to engage NCUA as we work together to move the credit union industry forward.” The webinar, which will be free, will allow viewers to write in questions on any topic. The meeting will begin at 2 p.m. ET and will last for 90 minutes. An archived version will be available on the NCUA website for those that are unable to participate. To register for the webinar, use the resource link.

Comment sought by CUNA on NCUA ad proposal

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WASHINGTON (1/27/11)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has issued a regulatory comment call on the National Credit Union Administration’s (NCUA) proposed amendments to portions of its official advertising statement rule, Part 740, as it applies to radio and television advertisements and certain credit union reports. The NCUA proposal would reinstate an earlier requirement, which held that radio and television ads of less than 30 seconds, as well as annual reports and other statements, include an official NCUA advertising statement. More specific changes to print advertising requirements have also been proposed. Comments are due to CUNA by Feb. 14. Comments solicited by the NCUA should be submitted by Feb. 28. To view the CUNA comment call, use the link.