Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Trio Faces Long Sentences for Kidnapping CU, Bank Employees in Robberies

Two men and a woman will be sentenced in September for kidnapping employees and using them to rob more than $600,000 from a credit union and two banks.

After a four-day federal jury trial, Antonio Johnson, 44; Travis Jackson, 37; and Shalundra Johnson, 39; were found guilty on multiple felony charges of kidnapping, bank robbery and firearms possession, Acting U.S. Attorney Joseph C. Murphy Jr. in Memphis, Tenn., said last week.

After an employee of the $750 million First South Financial Credit Union arrived at her home at about 6:15 p.m. on April 4, 2019, Antonio Johnson and Jackson, who were armed, zip-tied the employee’s wrists and demanded the keys to the credit union. The victim, along with her three-year-old child, were forced into her personal car. Eventually, the credit union employee was taken to the credit union where the criminals stole $425,000.

According to prosecutors, Shalundra Johnson placed a tracking device on the car belonging to the credit union employee, who worked at First South Financial’s Whitehaven branch at 1250 East Shelby Dr. in Memphis. The employee’s home was about six miles away in Horn Lake, Miss.

On Sept. 14, 2018, at approximately 2:15 a.m., an employee of Trustmark Bank’s branch at 4572 Elvis Presley Blvd. in Memphis, got off work from her second job and arrived home. As she was walking into her home, one of the two men grabbed her at gunpoint and pushed her inside of the residence. The victim was zip-tied and taken to the bank to complete the robbery in which approximately $73,400 was stolen.

And on Dec. 7, 2018, at approximately 7:18 p.m., an employee of First Tennessee Bank at 4180 Elvis Presley Blvd. in Memphis arrived home from work. While in her driveway, one of the two men, who was armed and wearing a mask, forced the bank employee into the passenger seat and drove to a location near the bank. She was zip-tied and taken to the bank to complete the robbery in which more than $110,000 was stolen. A tracking device was also placed on her car.

The criminals were found guilty based on evidence that included DNA, cell phone records, tracking devices and other evidence found in the homes of the defendants.

Jackson faces a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 41 years and Antonio Johnson is facing a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 34 years. Shalundra Johnson may be sentenced up to 20 years in prison, according to prosecutors.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

BSA 2.0? What a New IRS Proposal Could Mean for Credit Unions

WASHINGTON– “The devil is going to be in the details,” according to one analysis of what a new Internal Revenue Service proposal could mean for credit unions.

CUNA and NAFCU have joined with other trade groups in sending a letter to the House raising concerns over a proposed new tax reporting requirement included under President Joe Biden's budget proposal.

Under the new reporting requirements, financial institutions would be required to file an annual information return for all business and personal accounts with more than $600 in their account. The annual reporting requirement would include information related to gross inflows and outflows, including the amount of cash, transfers to and from accounts held by the same owner, and transactions with foreign accounts.

In the letter, NAFCU, CUNA and the trades said proposals "to create new reporting requirements for financial institutions appear to impose cost and complexity that are not justified by the potential, and highly uncertain, benefits."

The ‘Door is Open’

NAFCU EVP and General Counsel Carrie Hunt said much remains to be seen as the proposal works its way through Washington.

“The IRS is not saying that much about what credit unions and other financial institutions have to do now,” said Hunt. “The devil is going to be in the details. Treasury has left the door open and this is an evolving issue that remains to be seen.

“But for us, we’ve seen how burdensome it can be when financial institutions are asked to step into the policy arena,” continued Hunt. “BSA is a prime example. It is extremely, extremely burdensome just from a reporting standpoint. We support the goals behind BSA, just as we support the goal of paying the taxes you are obligated to pay. But it is not the role of financial institutions to be policing this.”


Virtual Exams - A Means of Overseeing CUs 24/7?

 ARLINGTON, Va.–Over the past year reports from most credit unions have been generally positive about the virtual exams NCUA has conducted during the pandemic. But there are increasing concerns by the trade groups that the reach of those exams will be extended and the burden on CUs will get heavier.

“I think there is a lot that remains unknown relative to exams with the continued use of virtual exams,” said Carrie Hunt, EVP and general counsel with CUNA. “The exams had to be virtual due to the pandemic, but whether that translates into longer-term lessons learned from NCUA’s virtual exam program remains to be seen. Certainly, the opportunity to regulate via exams are the kinds of issues that we become concerned about. We want there to be transparency in the process. If NCUA begins doing things in the exam process that are not outlined in their supervisory priorities, then we would we be worried about that.”

Hunt acknowledged that to date the feedback NAFCU has received from its member credit unions has been positive about the virtual exam programs. Moving forward, there remain issues to be addressed, according to Hunt.

‘Flexibility’ Needed

“Part of this is going to depend on whether the credit union has the tools in place to deliver information securely electronically,” said Hunt. “And from NAFCU’s perspective we do not want the virtual exam to turn into a means to examine credit unions 24/7. Credit unions need management flexibility.”

NAFCU recently sent a letter to NCUA urging it to minimize examination burdens by not making requests for model validations.