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Senate passes bill to regulate money transfer businesses, rejects hiking DPS fees

Rendering of proposed new Fono Building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — After amendments, the Senate approved Tuesday its version of an administration bill that seeks to establish by law the Money Services Business Regulatory Act, which would regulate money transfer businesses in American Samoa.

During a committee hearing last week, there were concerns over the full authority “given to one person” — the Commissioner of the Office of Financial Institution (OFI) — to make decisions as stipulated in several provisions of the bill.

One particular provision states that, in cases involving extraordinary circumstances requiring immediate action, the Commissioner, “may take any enforcement action authorized by this chapter without providing a prior hearing...”

The Senate amended this particular provision to state that the Commissioner, “after meeting with the Treasurer, or his/her designee, and the director of the Department of Commerce, or his/her designee, and arriving at a unanimous decision, may take any enforcement actions authorized by this chapter”.

The second change made by the Senate is that 50% “of fees collected” is for operations of the OFI and the remainder “shall be deposited to an enterprise fund”.  The original language of the bill states that the remainder is deposited into the general fund.

The measure is now with the House, which has its own version pending in committee.


A bill seeking to hike the law enforcement fee from $10 to $20 per conviction for traffic violations failed to muster enough “yes” votes and therefore was rejected this week in the Senate.

Current law requires the court to impose a law enforcement fee of $10 per conviction for traffic violations and revenues collected are deposited into a separate “Traffic Rehabilitation Account” administered by ASG Treasury.

The Senate bill had initially set the increase from $10 to $40, but the Senate Public Safety Committee reduced it to $20. The bill then passed second reading but didn’t get enough “yes” votes in third reading, where the vote was 7-3. The bill needed at least 10 'yes' votes to pass in final reading.

Revenues collected from the law enforcement fees are expended solely for purchase or maintenance of traffic control devices, traffic patrol vehicles, and traffic safety or traffic law enforcement.