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Eni’s bank deposit bill — H.R. 1679 — passes U.S. House

fili@samoanews.com

Federal legislation that would include American Samoa and the U.S. Pacific territories in the federal law pertaining to the availability of funds from off-island bank deposits at local banks has passed the U.S. House and now heads to the U.S. Senate.
 
Faleomavaega introduced in April last year H.R. 1679, which is legislation to amend the Expedited Funds Availability Act, or Regulation CC, to clarify the application of that act to American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
 
The congressman announced yesterday that the House passed “by unanimous consent” H.R. 1679 and he had spoken on the House floor in support of his legislation.
 
He told his colleagues that he introduced the measure last year “to prevent the excessive delays in releasing funds from checks deposited at banks in our Territory,” according to a copy of his remarks provided by his office.
 
Faleomavaega recalled that this issue was raised during the debate last year when BoH was moving forward with closing their branches in American Samoa. He also says that many constituents have complained about the 21-day hold policy on their checks rather than six days that are required of banks under Regulation CC — (which is also known as or Reg CC, after the Federal Reserve regulation that implements the act.)
 
“This legislation will fix this delay and will put American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas in-line with the schedule of availability of funds that are already required of banks in all states and other U.S. territories under Regulation CC,” Faleomavaega said, according to a copy of his speech provided by his office through a news release.
 
“I do not hold the banks at fault, but given the trend of electronic banking and quicker access to mailing services, I feel that they are able to provide quicker and better services for their customers,” he said.
 
“H.R. 1679 is important because it will not only improve the current banking system in both Territories but it will also allow our constituents quicker access to their funds,” he said, and thanked U.S. Reps. Jeb Hensarling (chairman) and Maxine Waters (Ranking Member) of the House Committee on Financial Services for supporting H.R. 1679.
 
Faleomavaega says the bill now goes to the U.S. Senate for further consideration and he will work closely with U.S. Senate Committee on Finance chairman Sen. Ron Wyden and Ranking Member, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch “in moving this legislation forward, and I will keep our people informed as the matter progresses”.
 
BACKGROUND
 
In March of last year, Samoa News — during the community uproar as the Bank of Hawai’i March 15 closing date loomed closer — informed the Congressman that the Expedited Funds Availability Act enacted in 1987 by the U.S. Congress did not apply to American Samoa, Guam or CNMI. It is this act which standardizes hold periods on deposits made to commercial banks and regulates institutions' use of deposit holds. Therefore, the hold period for the Pacific territories is currently 21 business days.
 
In American Samoa, this impacts checks deposited with ANZ Amerika Samoa Bank, the local subsidiary of ANZ Guam Inc., and if BoH had closed its doors on March 15, as planned, it would have left ANZ ASB as the only bank in the territory.
 
ANZ ASB’s off-island check policy, according to the bank officials, is that any check written on an off-island account is held for 21 days.
 
BoH has since announced it will not be closing its doors until March of next year, and checks written on a local BoH branch account are currently still being accepted as ‘on island’ checks by ANZ ASB. As such, they are only subject to a 4- 5 business day hold.
 
“It is important that all banks in American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands are able to treat local customers with the same services that are offered in the rest of the states and other territories,” Faleomavaega told Samoa News last March.
 
In 1995, Faleomavaega had introduced H.R. 1800, a bill that would amend Regulation CC to include Guam and American Samoa. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Banking and Financial Services, but no action was taken on that bill.
 
“Given ANZ’s 21-business day deposit policy, I feel that it is necessary that all banks in American Samoa and the other territories should be expected to offer the same level of services as do the banks in Hawai’i or California,” Faleomavaega said.



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