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Lolo working on several options to fill banking void

fili@samoanews.com

The new administration has confirmed that Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has been approached by some local residents who are looking at setting up a locally owned bank, to fill the void that will be left behind when Bank of Hawai’i withdraws from the territory on Mar. 15.

BoH announced on Nov. 30 last year its plans to shut down local operations and concentrate efforts on its core markets in Guam and Hawai’i. 

Lolo is also awaiting details in order to review the new credit union’s application that the former governor announced on his last weekend radio program, he had approved.

In addition, Lolo is continuing discussions with off island bank officials about possibly setting up business in the territory.

NEW LOCALLY OWNED BANK

Responding to Samoa News inquiries, the governor’s executive assistant, Iulogologo Joseph Pereira said Lolo has been “approached by local businessmen and community residents that current efforts are on the way to establish a locally owned bank similar to the structure assumed by the former Amerika Samoa Bank.”

“The governor has encouraged the local group to accelerate their efforts to forge immediate establishment of this local banking initiative,” said Iulogologo. “The governor is in full support of this local effort for long term financial stability of the territory, continuity, commitment and direct accruing of benefits to the people of American Samoa.”

Samoa News understands that public shares would be offered by the bank similar to what ASB did when it was first established.

NEW CREDIT UNION

Prior to leaving office when his term expired, Gov. Togiola Tulafono announced on his last weekend radio program that he had signed the permit and necessary paperwork for Community Investment Corporation (CIC) to begin its work setting up a new credit union in American Samoa.

CIC already has an office at the Pago Plaza and the new credit union — called Community Development Credit Union — will be headquartered in Fitiuta, Manu’a with branches throughout the territory.

Asked if the governor has had a chance to review details and application of the new credit union, Iulogologo said, “Nothing has been presented to the governor detailing the work former Gov. Togiola Tulafono did on the credit union.”

He said the only information the new administration has received was from the Native Hawaiian Holding Company and CIC regarding their plan to start a credit union. He said inquiries are being made as to the details of the work done by Togiola on the credit union.

NEW OFF-ISLAND BANK

Prior to taking over the helm of government on Jan. 3 this year, Lolo had dispatched to Honolulu, then governor-elect Lemanu Peleti Mauga for meetings with banking officials in the Aloha State to attract another bank to the territory.

According to Lolo’s office, American Savings had informed Lemanu that they were not interested while a Central Pacific Bank official had said that he needed to discuss the matter with the bank’s chief executive officer before making a statement relative to their interest in American Samoa.

However, meetings last month with Central Pacific Bank and BoH officials in Honolulu had to be rescheduled because top officials of the two financial institutions were on Christmas holiday. A Central Pacific Bank official did advise Lemanu that it would take at least 12 months before any type of presence could materialize in American Samoa.

Lemanu was further advised that the new ASG administration should compel BoH to extend the period to close down local operations until the end of 2013 to give sufficient time to the government as well as the other interested banks to assess and implement plans if it is deemed feasible for them.

A BoH meeting is now scheduled for Jan. 17 this year and meetings have been scheduled with First Hawaiian Bank and other banks in Hawai’i at a later time. However, Iulogologo said that due to “funding constraints the governor is mulling over the best course of action to ensure the execution of these meetings.”



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