Top-shelf reporting could produce a big tab

By Heather Anderson

I owe the NCUA’s public affairs office a round of drinks. Probably more than one.

In the last couple of weeks, Credit Union Times reporting has pressured the agency into making three big announcements.

The most recent was the Nov. 6 news that the NCUA will establish a new office to handle agency security and business continuity.

That revelation was in response to my questions about examiner safety, after NCUA employees found ammunition and semi-automatic weapons stashed in a credit union storage room by former Taupa Lithuanian Federal Credit Union CEO Alex Spirikaitis.

Plenty of credit union employees have found themselves staring down the barrel of a gun. I understand that; I’ve been in a takeover myself and it was terrifying.

Because robberies are part of the job, credit unions detail policies and procedures regarding exactly what employees should do during robberies to minimize risk. And, credit unions also take out additional insurance policies to protect against legal claims.

But what about the NCUA? I combed through the NCUA employee handbook and found nothing about field examiner safety procedures, not even to protect employees against the known danger of takeovers that could occur while they are onsite at credit unions. And additionally, there were no procedures that detailed how field employees should approach conservatorships or liquidations in the event of suspected fraud, or if field employees suspect the soon-to-be-ousted CEO might provoke a volatile situation for other reasons.

Perhaps those 10,000 rounds of ammo at Taupa Lithuanian weren’t intended for NCUA employees, but they were meant for someone. Examiners could have easily been caught in the crossfire.

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