Presentation on theme: "Avoiding Director Liability Credit Union Association of the Dakotas 2012 Annual Summit Guy A. Messick www.CUSOLaw.com."— Presentation transcript:
Avoiding Director Liability Credit Union Association of the Dakotas 2012 Annual Summit Guy A. Messick
NCUA is Piling on More Responsibility for Directors
Section 113 of the Federal Credit Union Act The board of directors shall meet at least once a month and shall have the general direction and control of the affairs of the federal credit union. Minutes of the meeting must be kept.
NCUA Regulations 701.4(b) – A Director Has a Duty to… n Carry out his or her duties as a director in good faith, in a manner such director reasonably believes to be in the best interests of the membership of the Federal credit union as a whole, and with the care, including reasonable inquiry, as an ordinarily prudent person in a like position would use under similar circumstances; n Administer the affairs of the Federal credit union fairly and impartially and without discrimination in favor of or against any particular member;
NCUA Regulations (b) – A Director Has a Duty to… n Have at least a working familiarity with basic finance and accounting practices, including the ability to read and understand the Federal credit union's balance sheet and income statement and to ask, as appropriate, substantive questions of management and the internal and external auditors; and n Direct management's operations of the Federal credit union in conformity with the requirements set forth in the Federal Credit Union Act, this chapter, other applicable law, and sound business practices.
Variations of the Director Species
The Royal Director
The Laid Back Director
The Party Director
The Hidden Agenda Director
The Micro Managing Director
Let’s start off by scaring you to get your attention. Being a director can be a precarious job.
FIRREA Institution Affiliated Party
FIRREA - Standard of Care n Fiduciary Standard ä Act in good faith ä Reasonably believe actions in the best interest of the CUSO ä Reasonable inquiry, skill and diligence that person of ordinary prudence would use under similar circumstances
FIRREA - Standard of Care n No scienter (knowledge) required n Minimum liability standard ä Unintentionally allowing an unsafe or unsound practice to occur
FIRREA - Penalties n Removal of IAP and industry wide bar n Civil money damages ä $5,000 per day ä $25,000 per day ä $1,000,000 per day
The Director’s View of Regulations
Briar Patch n Truth-in-Lending n Truth-in-Savings n RESPA n Fair Debt Collection Practices Act n Equal Credit Opportunity Act
Briar Patch n ADA n IRS n Prompt Corrective Action n Privacy Act n Due Diligence
NCUA Hot List n Self-dealing n Excessive growth & careless lending n Failure to correct deficiencies n Failure to follow regulations n Failure of oversight & internal controls n Lack of vendor due diligence
NCUA Hot List n Failure to provide an adequate allowance for loan loss n Failure to hold meetings & keep minutes n Failure to have an adequate audit n Payment of illegal dividends
When in doubt.... n Use the 3:00 AM Test n Use the Mike Wallace Test n Ask a Lawyer and Blame the Lawyer if Things Go Wrong
What to do if the NCUA gets nasty. n Don’t sweat. n Pretend not to understand English. n Blame your mother for an unhappy childhood.
What to do if the NCUA gets nasty. n Get your credit union lawyer actively involved immediately n Speak with one voice n Dissent on the record if applicable n Don’t hide your head in the sand n Watch out for letters of understanding – GO SLOW!!!
What to do if the NCUA gets nasty. n Recommended personnel action n Resignations n When to get your own lawyer n Indemnification by the credit union n Does it make a difference that you’re a volunteer?
There is Hope
Business Judgment Rule n Strong presumption that protects directors from possible liability for decisions that result in harm to the credit union – can be rebutted. n Exists so that a Board will not suffer legal action simply from a bad decision if the elements of the Rule are met. n Based on process not hindsight substantive analysis.
Business Judgment Rule n Duty of Care – Exercise powers in good faith with the care of an ordinary prudent person in a like position and in a manner one reasonably believes to be in and not opposed to the best interest of the company (after reasonable investigation). n Duty of Loyalty – Exercise powers in the primary interest of the company rather than out of self- interest and do not usurp company opportunities for self-interest at the expense of the company. n Duty of Obedience – Act timely and follow the law and by-laws.
The WesCorp Case
Who do the directors serve?
Who do directors owe a duty to? Washington State NCUA n To the credit union as an entity n To the members n What if some members benefit from a decision and others do not? n Can the interest of some members be in conflict with the credit union?
NCUA Position n Two guiding questions for directors: ä What financial services do my members need and want? ä Will my decision today help the credit union provide these member services in a quality manner and at low cost to the members? n If the duty is owned to the CU and not the members, the directors can justify self- serving decisions or decisions that serve primarily CU insiders.
What are the restrictions on indemnification for federal credit unions?
Prohibition of Indemnification n Not when a court determines that the director acted with gross negligence, recklessness or intentional misconduct in matters affecting the fundamental rights and interest of members (charter conversions and share insurance conversions) n Not where an IAP is assessed a civil money penalty, removed from office or is required to act or cease from acting under a Section 206 action
Advancing Fees n Board acts in good faith to determine in writing that the IAP acted in good faith in a manner which he/she reasonably believes to be in the best interest of the members n Board acts in good faith to determine in writing that the indemnification will not materially adversely affect the CU’s safety and soundness n Indemnified director provides a written statement of compliance with good faith standard n Agrees to repay the CU if there is a finding or agreement that results in a finding of gross negligence, recklessness or willful misconduct or there is the imposition of civil penalties.
Indemnification Questions n Can CU get insurance to cover defense costs if director cannot pay them back? n What happens if director cannot pay back the defense costs and insurance is not sufficient? n What happens to the directors who think they are acting in good faith to approve the indemnification and NCUA disagrees? n Is there too much pressure to give in to NCUA if there is concern on individual exposure to defense costs?
Reliance by a Director NCUA (d) n From staff the director reasonably believes to be reliable and competent n Professional advice if the director believes the advice to be within the person’s professional competence and who merits confidence n A committee of the board if the director reasonably believes merits confidence
Insurance Options n Directors, Volunteers and Employees n Errors and Omissions n Bond n Claims Made vs. Date of Occurrence n Pay On Behalf Of vs. Duty to Defend ä Paid at the conclusion of the case vs. advancement of defense costs n Review ä Limits of Liability ä Key Definitions ä Key Exclusions
Permissible Benefits n Gifts of minimal value n Insurance and incidental services available to employees generally n Reimbursement of expenses for director and spouse in the performance of the director’s duties n Loans but not on more favorable terms than offered to members generally
Characteristics of High Functioning Boards
High Functioning Boards… n Take legally required actions n Act on the regulators’ exceptions n Establish written investment and lending policies n Establish and monitor employment policies
High Functioning Boards… n Understand the oversight role versus the management role n Give the CEO the direction and support to be successful and hold the CEO accountable n Self-evaluate the performance of each director and the results are reflected in the nomination process
High Functioning Boards… n Expect the CEO to provide sufficient and timely information and alternatives for the Board’s consideration n Consider the information provided, make timely decisions and follow up to monitor the implementation of the decisions
High Functioning Boards… n Consist of directors who reflect the demographics of the membership n Have a balance of experienced directors and new directors n Treat each other and staff with respect
High Functioning Boards… n Establish a forward thinking strategic plan and business plan and take action consistent with the plans n Keep the focus on the members
High Functioning Boards Have Directors Who… n Attend board meetings n Know the basic legal framework n Competently examine financial reports n Disclose all actual and potential conflicts n Attend conferences judiciously n Stay alert
Just remember the five A’s. n Attitude n Attendance n Attention n Answers n Action
The Top Ten Reasons for Being a Credit Union Director
10. The pay is great. 9. I don’t hear enough complaints at home. 8. It helps remind me of the difference between dividends and interest. 7. I love cold coffee and stale danish. 6. I enjoy comparing the aesthetics of hotel meeting rooms all over the country.
The Top Ten Reasons for Being a Credit Union Director 5. I enjoy the cheery disposition of our examiners. 4. I appreciate the advice of bureaucrats who never ran a credit union or met a payroll. 3. I enjoy being called a credit unionist. 2. I love regulations that protect me from my poor unsophisticated self. 1. I love to annoy bank presidents.
Real Reason for Being a Credit Union Director To receive the satisfaction of making a meaningful and positive contribution to the lives of your fellow members
Continue to Fight the Good Fight Thank you for your service.