Overhaul of credit union sector to focus on risk profile, says Lenihan

A MAJOR review of the credit union sector will focus on establishing the financial position and risk profile of the credit unions, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan has said.

Yesterday, the Central Bank and Financial Regulator selected chartered accountants and management consultants Grant Thornton to conduct an independent strategic review of the credit union sector.

The review aims to assist in the development of a modern credit union sector, identifying the legislative and regulatory framework required to build a strong and sustainable sector.

“The significance and scale of the sector means the regulatory regime has to be adapted to ensure credit unions remain viable in a new financial environment. The responsibility for maintaining sustainable credit unions and the future development of the sector rests with the current boards of directors, managers and representative leadership within the movement.

“Strong leadership will be required to steer credit unions through these uncertain times. If credit unions are to continue to achieve their mandate and develop as viable alternative financial services providers for their members then operational and regulatory change is necessary,” the regulator said.

The registrar of credit unions James O’Brien said: “We would encourage credit unions to engage positively with the review.”

The Central Bank and Financial Regulator also announced it intends to hold its inaugural credit union regulatory forum in the autumn.

Credit unions have also been notified that the deadline for submissions on the recently issued consultation paper — Stabilisation Support for Credit Unions — has been extended to September 24, to provide sufficient time for the preparation of submissions.

The board of the Irish League of Credit Unions is holding a special general meeting to discuss this issue on September 18 in Dublin.

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