Oversight of any future non-federally chartered, V.I. licensed credit unions will fall under the Office of the Lieutenant Governor’s Division of Banking and Insurance, if legislation heading for a final vote at the next session is approved.
“The Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs does not have the experience and expertise to really regulate and supervise credit unions and it’s best placed under the Division of Banking and Insurance,” Sen. Clifford Graham, the bill’s sponsor, said. “Simple legislation like this protects our residents here and could safeguard their funding, and these people can ensure that any non-federally chartered credit union, once this bill is passed, will be under the purview of banking and insurance to ensure that the funding that you have in credit union will be safeguarded.”
When the measure was considered in the Finance Committee, (See: Senate Reforming Credit Union Oversight in Related Links below) Licensing and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Devin Carrington said DLCA is not equipped to oversee financial institutions and already seeks help from the Division of Banking and Insurance before acting on credit unions.
The only time the Virgin Islands licensed a business as a "credit union" that was not certified and insured by the National Credit Union Administration was when DLCA issued a business license to Her Majesty’s Credit Union in 2008, which it held until 2011.
That ended with the U.S. District Court entering summary judgment of more than $1 million against HMCU and its main director, Stanley McDuffie, over charges of defrauding clients, conspiracy and racketeering in 2014.
More than one HMCU- related case is presently working through the courts.
Friday, the Senate Rules and Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to send Graham’s bill on for a final up or down vote in full session.
Later, the committee approved the nominations of Nellon Bowry as director of the Office of Management and Budget, and former Sen. Donald Cole as executive director of the Public Services Commission.
Several senators, including Sen. Kenneth Gittens, expressed concern that Bowry had only a one-year commitment from Gov. Kenneth Mapp.
Gittens said he had great respect for Bowry’s abilities, credentials and experience, but was concerned about confusion and chaos at the department if leadership was going to change. “I need a commitment and I’m not getting it,” Gittens said.
Bowry said he would not commit to the Legislature a longer time than he agreed to with the governor, because that was up to the governor. "I am not going to make a commitment here that I did not make to him. What I will commit to here today is I’m going to finish what I started," he said, adding that he would stay on if needed or asked.
Sen. Jean Forde asked him to clarify, saying, "if asked, you will stay on?"
"That is correct," Bowry said.
Ultimately, his nomination was approved with six yes votes and Gittens providing the sole no vote.
Bowry has held an array of high-level V.I. financial posts over a four-decade career. He has been: budget officer at the West Indian Co.; credit analyst at a local bank; assistant controller at VITELCO (predecessor to Innovative Telephone); senior analyst, then chief of budget management, then later, director of OMB; director of Finance; and, later, two tenures as CFO of the V.I. Water and Power Authority, which included two extended periods as interim executive director; CFO of the Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital; interim CFO at the VI Port Authority; and, most recently, interim CFO at the Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital for the second time. He has also served on a variety of boards and commissions.
He holds a master’s in finance from the University of Connecticut.
The committee unanimously approved former Sen. Donald Cole as executive director of the Public Services Commission. Cole has served in that role in an acting capacity for the last five months.
Cole graduated Charlotte Amalie High School in 1977. He holds a masters in public administration from the University of the Virgin Islands and a bachelor’s in political science from Kent State University in Ohio. He interned in the Legislature starting in 1978. After graduating Kent State, he started working in the office of the Legislative Legal Counsel. In 1998, he was elected to the Legislature, and reelected in 2000.
Cole taught history at Addelita Cancryn Junior High School from 2003-2007. He served as assistant director of Libraries, Archives and Museums from 2007 and 2012. He has also served on the Public Services Commission since 2006.
All committee members were present.