The National Credit Union Administration will not disclose the financial details surrounding its sale of thousands of taxi medallion loans, agency Acting General Counsel Frank Kressman said in a recent letter.
Kressman said that both the exact number of loans sold to Marblegate Asset Management and the amount the loans were sold for are exempt from the federal Freedom of Information Act.
Several FOIA requests have been filed with the agency seeking the records, but Kressman’s letter is the first appeals ruling made public by the agency.
Kressman said that the records were issued or received by the NCUA board as the liquidating agent and not subject to the open records law. “The NCUA Board has delegated complete authority to act as liquidating agent to the President of the Asset Management and Assistance Center,” he said, in a letter whose recipient is not named.
He added that the taxi sale information also could be withheld under Freedom of Information Act exemptions. For instance, one exemption “protects commercial or financial information obtained from a person that is privileged or confidential.” He concluded that “A sale agreement and other documents underlying a taxi medallion loan sale undoubtedly relate to business, trade, and commerce and would clearly fit within this broad definition.”
Kressman said the recipient may appeal his decision to the Office of Government Information Services, a branch of the National Archives.
Earlier this year, the NCUA, acting as the liquidation agent for Melrose Credit Union and LOMTO Federal Credit Union, sold the taxi loans to Marblegate. The two credit unions had made a large number of loans to New York City taxi drivers, who used their medallions as collateral. The value of those medallions plunged as a result of the growth in ride-sharing services and drivers were unable to repay the loans.
The sale has proven to be particularly controversial, since New York City officials had asked the agency to delay the sale so they could put together a public-private partnership to purchase the loans, allowing the drivers to repay them at a reduced monthly payment. The NCUA sold the loans before that partnership could be formed.