Daily Archives: August 10, 2014

Credit union membership hits 100 million-client milestone

Natalie Ludewig is one in a hundred million.

By joining a credit union this summer, Ludewig became one of 100 million credit union customers nationwide, and 5 million in New York state.

Credit unions are snapping up customers at a rapid clip, according to the Credit Union National Association, which released these startling stats last week.

And that’s thanks to lower interest rates on loans and higher yields on savings than many banks offer.

The difference between the structure of credit unions and banks is that credit unions are member-owned, nonprofit organizations while banks seek profits for shareholders.

“When I took my first credit union job . . . people would ask, is that a union — what is it?” said Robert G. Allen, CEO of Smithtown-based Teachers Federal Credit Union, which boasts 241,000 members and assets of just under $5 billion. “The public’s awareness of credit unions has grown dramatically.”

Read on.

JPMorgan’s Fund Choices for Clients Said Under SEC Review

The Securities and Exchange Commission is reviewing whether conflicts of interest led JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) to sell certain investment products to individual clients, according to a person briefed on the matter.

The review is at an early stage, said the person, who asked to remain anonymous because the inquiry isn’t public. The Wall Street Journal, in a report on the review earlier today, said the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has conducted a similar probe into whether JPMorgan inappropriately steered private-banking clients into its own products.

Read on.

Argentina threatened with contempt order by U.S. judge

Argentina’s economy ministry once again defiantly asserted the country has made a required debt payment on restructured sovereign bonds on Friday night, just hours after a U.S. judge threatened a contempt-of-court order if Argentina did not stop issuing such statements.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa, who has overseen the nation’s long-running debt battle with hedge funds, railed at Argentina’s lawyers at a hearing in New York a day after the publication of another so-called legal notice insisting the government has met its payment requirements and was therefore not in default.

Holding a newspaper copy of the notice, Griesa said if the false statements did not stop, a contempt of court order will become necessary.

Later on Friday, however, Argentina’s economy ministry issued a statement accusing Griesa of “clear partiality in favour of the vulture funds.”

“Judge Griesa continues contradicting himself and the facts by saying that Argentina did not pay,” the statement said.

Read on.

What I Could Not Tell The Jury in Decatur, Georgia

From Lynn Szymoniak website:

On August 6, 2014, I travelled to Decatur, GA to testify for the defense in the trial of Mark Anthony Harris, Timothy Franzen, Mariam Asad and Daniel Hanley.  Mark Harris was a disabled Gulf War veteran who was evicted from his home in 2012, after losing his home to foreclosure. Franzen, Asad and Harris were members of Occupy Our Homes Atlanta who tried to help Mark Harris stay in his home with a mortgage modification.  The defendants were charged with resisting arrest and obstruction of justice and faced up to two years in prison.

When the prosecution rested its case, I took the witness stand on behalf of the defendants, was sworn in and began reciting my credentials.  I did not get very far.  Right after I told the jury that I had helped the Justice Department recover $95 million for HUD from four major banks, the prosecutor jumped up flailing and yelling, “Whoa, whoa, whoa whoa.”   Judge Dax Lopez sent the jury from the courtroom, sent me to a witness room, as the lawyers argued about whether I would be allowed to testify.

I wasn’t there on the day of the eviction, but the prosecution was allowed to bring in testimony and evidence regarding the mortgage default by Mark Harris, so it seemed like I could offer some reasonable rebuttable evidence as to whether the foreclosure was questionable (or downright illegal) and  that I could corroborate the testimony of the defendants that they reasonably thought Mark Harris had a legal right to remain in his home.

Years earlier, I had written a letter to Mark Harris and Occupy Atlanta with my opinion that the loan documents used in his case were fraudulent.  The defendants had all read that letter.

I was not allowed to testify. This is what I would have told the jury.

Read on.

Federal Investigation Looks at Cuomo and Moreland Commission Referrals

Federal prosecutors are examining whether New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo or his staff directed an anticorruption commission to not refer cases to district attorneys for prosecution, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, formed by Mr. Cuomo in 2013, turned up evidence of potentially criminal wrongdoing by from six to 12 lawmakers, The Wall Street Journal has reported, citing a commissioner and people familiar with the matter.

Before being shut down by the governor in March, the panel made some criminal referrals and sent investigative files to the U.S. attorney for the Northern District and the state attorney general.

Now, prosecutors are looking closely at whether anyone in the administration encouraged the commission to avoid referring cases to Albany District Attorney David Soares, according to people familiar with the matter. One of these people said prosecutors also were looking at the same issue for cases that could have been referred to Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson.

Read on.

Senators Push For Investigation of USA Discounters’ ‘Aggressive’ Tactics

Five U.S. senators have urged the Department of Defense and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to investigate allegations that “aggressive debt collection actions” are being used by USA Discounters and similar retailers against active duty service members.

In a letter sent Tuesday, the senators cited a ProPublica investigation of USA Discounters co-published last month with the Washington Post. The story detailed how the company courts service members, guaranteeing them credit on high-priced appliances and electronics, then sues them in Virginia if they fall behind on their payments, regardless of where they made their purchases.


If the service members do not show up in court, USA Discounters obtains a judgment and can garnish their wages. Department of Defense payroll data shows USA Discounters seizes the wages of more service members than any other company in the country by a substantial margin.

Although the company has locations from Georgia to Washington state, it uses a clause in its contracts with service members to file lawsuits in Virginia courts. USA Discounters and two other military-focused retailers, all headquartered in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, have filed more than 35,000 suits since 2006 in two local courts.

Read on.

Ex-Im Bank reauthorization left off Republican to-do list

Reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import Bank was left off a list of items that the No. 2 Republican in the House of Representatives expects his party to take up in September, raising new questions about the bank’s future.

The charter for the export credit agency is set to expire Sept. 30, and reauthorization is needed to allow Ex-Im to keep lending to buyers of U.S. exports.

The omission by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Ex-Im on a likely September agenda is a preview of yet another showdown between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans that could come this fall.

In a memo sent to House Republicans on Friday, McCarthy enumerated a likely September agenda including a jobs-related bill, an energy package and a healthcare measure. But renewal of the bank, which in addition to providing loans to purchasers of U.S. exports also provides insurance to banks that finance such deals, is not on the list.

There are ongoing discussions on Ex-Im Bank in the House Financial Services Committee, a leadership aide said, when asked about the memo.

Read on.