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Eni seeks to prevent 'excessive' delays in releasing funds from deposited checks

Congressman Faleomavaega Eni has introduced federal legislation, which if enacted into law, will prevent what he calls “excessive delays in releasing funds from checks deposited at banks in the territory.”


The bill, H.R. 1679, would amend the federal Expedited Funds Availability Act, more commonly known as Regulation CC, to include American Samoa. Samoa News understands that Congressional delegates from Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands are checking with their respective financial institutions to verify this regulation before they are included as an amendment to the bill.


Enacted in 1987, Regulation CC standardized hold periods on deposits made to commercial banks.  Currently, banks in the U.S. mainland and certain territories are required to make funds available for consumer use from in-state checks no later than the second business day after the check is deposited.


In a news release yesterday, Faleomavaega says out-of-state checks can be held for up to five business days before funds must be released. However, banks in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands may, at their discretion, hold out-of-state checks for up to six business days before releasing funds for access.


When Regulation CC was enacted, American Samoa was not included within the definitions of “State” or “United States” and this exemption allows banks in the territory to hold checks for an undetermined amount of time before releasing funds for use or withdrawal, he said.


“American Samoa’s exclusion from Regulation CC places a substantial financial burden on those living in our territory,” he said. “This omission not only affects our ability to sustain ourselves and our families but also weakens our ability to stimulate our local island economy.”


Because of the territory’s exemption from this federal regulation, ANZ Amerika Samoa Bank holds for 21-business days checks from other U.S. banks and Faleomavaega describes this policy as “appalling”.


“It is appalling to me that a financial institution like ANZ Bank with a special relationship with the American Samoan people has a policy of holding U.S. checks for 21 business days,” he said. “It is even more astonishing that the U.S. federal government allows such behavior within an American territory.  Our people should have timely access to their funds, just as those who live in the U.S. mainland, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” Faleomavaega continued.


This measure “is important to our people,” said Faleomavaega adding that he looks forward to working closely with U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Finance and Ranking Member U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters of this same committee “to ensure that American Samoa is included within the provisions of Regulation CC.”