|Participants in WOCCU's visit to Moscow included (from left) Russian CU League (RCUL) CEO Alexander Solomkin; Irish League of CUs Foundation Executive Director Alan Moore; WOCCU Executive Vice President and COO Brian Branch; RCUL Chairman Valery Kasatkin; Polish CU Foundation representatiuve Paweł Grzesik; and Louisiana CU League President and CEO Anne Cochran.
MOSCOW — A multinational credit union delegation visited with Russian credit unions last week to help the country's budding movement prepare for new regulatory legislation. The new law, signed byRussian President Dmitry Medvedev in 2009, requires all Russian credit unions to register with the government and meet new federal financial standards by August 2010. World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) Executive Vice President and COO Brian Branch headed the delegation, convened by the Russian Credit Union League (RCUL), a WOCCU member organization.
Under the new guidelines, credit unions must meet certain financial standards affecting share capital, capital reserves, loan portfolio concentration limits, deposit concentration limits and investment limits. RCUL is currently training credit unions to meet criteria for registration, according to Valery Kasatkin, RCUL chairman.
"Our first priority is to help credit unions prepare for the new law and create the required regulatory structure," Kasatkin said. The delegation's role was to provide input and offer guidance in support of those training efforts, he added.
In addition to WOCCU's Branch, the multinational delegation included Anne Cochran, president and CEO of the Louisiana Credit Union League (LCUL); Alan Moore, executive director of the Irish League of Credit Unions Foundation (ILCUF); and Paweł Grzesik, representing the Polish Credit Union Foundation (PCUF). Last week's delegation mapped out assistance strategies to support the Russian credit unions' transition to the rigors of the new regulatory regime.
"By working together, we can gain greater leverage and efficiency in supporting the Russian league's preparation for the new regulatory framework," Branch said.
All delegation members have had prior experience with RCUL. LCUL, which maintains an ongoing exchange with the Russian association through the WOCCU International Partnerships Program, provided past assistance to RCUL in the form of training programs. ILCUF previously supported credit unions and their provincial federations in the St. Petersburg, Karelia and Dubna regions. PCUF assisted Moscow-based RCUL for several years.
By August 2011, a year from the new law's implementation, all Russian credit unions must be affiliated with self-regulatory organizations (SROs), non-commercial entities that oversee deposit-taking financial institutions. The SROs will monitor member cooperatives to ensure continued compliance with standards required under the legislation. RCUL will prepare an SRO for its member credit unions, while some regional provinces will organize their own SROs. It is likely that up to 10 SROs will exist in Russia by year end. Each SRO will register with and report credit union conditions to the Ministry of Finance, which now serves as Russia's credit union regulator.
Legislation prior to 2009 limited credit unions to no more than 2,000 members, severely constraining the institutions' ability to grow. Credit unions that exceeded the 2,000-member limit had to convert to civil code organizations, putting them on equal footing with other not-for-profit and commercial entities, or run the risk of regulator intervention. The new law no longer limits the size of membership. Credit unions that serve more that 5,000 members must report to both their SRO and the Ministry of Finance.
Currently, RCUL has 142 member credit unions serving approximately 250,000 members.
World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.
World Council has implemented more than 290 technical assistance programs in 71 countries. Worldwide, 56,000 credit unions in 101 countries serve 200 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.