Matz to Hensarling: NCUA does not participate in Choke Point
April 17, 2015
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (4/20/15)--The National Credit Union Administration does not, and will not, participate in programs such as U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ) Operation Choke Point, agency Chair Debbie Matz told a prominent legislator last week.
Matz wrote to Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), chair of the House Financial Services Committee, in response his April 8 request about the NCUA's relationship with Operation Choke Point.
Operation Choke Point allows the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to investigate whether financial institutions and payment processing companies are enabling fraudulent activity. Critics say it is being used to separate consumers from access to financial services.
Hensarling wrote to Matz requesting the NCUA to publicly disclaim any NCUA involvement in Operation Choke Point. According to Matz, the NCUA "has not and will not participate in Operation Choke Point or any other similar operation."
She cited DOJ testimony from a July 2014 House Judiciary Committee hearing on Operation Choke Point, in which the DOJ listed the regulators with which it communicated on Operation Choke Point. The NCUA was not listed.
Hensarling's second request was that the agency issue a letter to credit unions and a memo to employees clarifying the NCUA's Operation Choke Point policy. Per Matz's response, the agency issued its most recent anti-money laundering guidance in December 2014, acknowledging that money service businesses (a frequent Operation Choke Point target) provide necessary and valued financial services.
The NCUA also issued a memorandum to all field staff in August 2014 indicating the agency's policy is that a decision to open, close or decline an account or relationship is generally made by the individual credit union without the agency's involvement.
"The decision may be based on the credit union's particular business objectives, its evaluation of the risks associated with offering particular products or services and its capacity and systems to effectively manage those risks," Matz wrote, adding that going forward the NCUA will continue to ensure all materials and guidance clearly outline this policy.