BoH seeks info on territory’s economic situation

Plans remain to close

A Bank of Hawaii delegation from corporate headquarters in Honolulu arrived early this week to meet with individuals and private sector officials to get a better understanding of American Samoa’s economic situation and meet with staff.
Following another round of meetings with Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga late last year, BoH had announced it was delaying indefinitely the complete closure of its local operations, which had already been delayed once.
BoH’s president and CEO, Peter Ho had said that the bank “will not leave until we are comfortable that the depository needs of the territory can be appropriately accommodated. We want to be supportive.”
Responding to Samoa News inquiries, BoH local branch manager EJ Ozu said “we do have a small delegation in town [and] their visit coincides with our announced extension” to stay in the territory.
“As you know, we have not set a definite closure date. Our intentions to close remain –  however, we have committed to not do so until there are other adequate banking options available in the market,” he said.
Ozu said the purpose of the bank’s delegation visit “is not for any specific reason” and they are here to gather information and get to know American Samoa.
“...they will be meeting with a good cross-section of the market — meeting with individuals and companies to get a better understanding of the economic stage and atmosphere here in American Samoa,” he said.
Additionally, they will also meet with the local BoH staff and management as is customary to all executive visits.
The Lolo Administration, supported by the private sector, lawmakers and Congressman Faleomavaega Eni, wanted BoH to remain open until another bank is chartered and authorized to operate in the territory. BoH closing would leave only ANZ Amerika Samoa Bank to serve the banking needs of the territory.
The only other financial institution on the horizon in the territory, is the locally owned Community Bank of American Samoa (IC), which has already applied for federal charter and is currently awaiting approval.
The bank announced last September that about 50 founding investors have expressed interest in investing $8 million in the bank. And the founding investors either live in American Samoa or operate businesses in the territory. The bank is awaiting FDIC approval to proceed.
The visiting BoH delegation is scheduled to depart Friday night.


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