Feds install new management at Citizens Community Credit Union

Chuck Wickenhofer
The National Credit Union Administration took over management of Citizens Community Credit Union Friday due to “unsafe and unsound practices.” The federal agency will run the credit union indefinitely, as a timetable for transition to a new management team has not been announced.

The National Credit Union Administration has placed Citizens Community Credit Union in Devils Lake into conservatorship.

The move to oust management and the board came suddenly Friday, and the NCUA, the federal agency which oversees credit unions, says that they took over management due to “unsafe and unsound practices at the credit union.”

What exactly that means is unclear, as the NCUA’s John Fairbanks did not confirm nor deny whether or not the ousting of management was due to possible criminal activity at the credit union.

Gone in the sudden dispatch of management from the credit union is Darwin Brokke, long time president of CCCU.

Brokke was named the North Dakota Professional of the Year in 2014 by the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas.

The Journal left a message with Brokke at the number listed in the phone book.

Fairbanks said that customers can expect to be able to conduct their business as usual in the wake of the leadership change.

“The credit union is operating as usual. People can still transact all their business, they can get their money,” Fairbanks said. “We’re now running the credit union; we have put a new management team in place.”

An online review of CCCU by what appears to be either a current or former employee, one of four reviews of the credit union, calls upper management “liars and cheats” and that the employee “wouldn’t recommend this credit union to anybody.”

An attempt to contact the employee for comment was unsuccessful.

Other reviews within the past year have struck similar tones about the customer service experience at CCCU.

One reviewer said that he “keeps very little money there” due to his perception that he “was treated so poorly.” Another reviewer said that he had “the worse experience from any bank” when trying to make a deposit.

CCCU’s ratings average is two out of five stars. By comparison, both Ramsey and Gate City banks rate a perfect five out of five.

How long the credit union will remain in conservatorship is unknown, and Fairbanks said that the NCUA won’t be releasing much, if any, further information on the reasons behind the ouster of CCCU’s decision-making apparatus.

He did remind credit union members that their investments are covered up to $250,000.

“The credit union is still open. The member accounts are still insured,” Fairbanks said.