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UPDATE: BoH moves forward to close local branches

All customers currently banking with Bank of Hawai’i have until tomorrow to either close their local account or transfer it to the bank’s main branch in Honolulu, as BoH moves forward with the official closure of its two branches the middle of next month.


The Hawai’i based financial institution, which has been a fixture of the local business community since 1969, announced last November that it was closing local operations effective Mar. 15 this year, and will be concentrating on its core markets in Hawai’i and Guam.


In announcing its financial results for 2012, the bank said in a statement issued early this month that total non interest expenses for the fourth quarter was $83.5 million and the non interest expense for this quarter “included total charges of $1.5 million related to the company’s previously announced plans to close two branches in American Samoa.”


The bank has been running advertisements locally reminding its customers of the bank’s closure Mar. 15, and that it will be longer be accepting loan applications, new deposits, or requests to retain accounts with BoH after Feb. 15. (see today’s edition for details in a paid BoH advertisement)


Last week, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga wrote to BoH chief operating officer David W. Thomas seeking a 12-month delay, or less, allowing ANZ Amerika Samoa Bank time to implement other banking services, which are currently provided only by BoH. (See yesterday’s edition for details of the letter).


Asked for comments or reaction to Lolo’s letter, BoH’s local manager Hobbs Lowson said, “our decision to exit the American Samoa market has been a thoughtful process over time.”


“We have appreciated the opportunity to serve the community and will continue to work with the American Samoa Government and ANZ to transition accounts prior to our March 15, 2013 closure,” he told Samoa News yesterday.


“We wish to express our sincere appreciation for the Governor's kind words and ongoing support,” Lowson said.


David Robinson, chairman of the local Chamber of Commerce says that he spoke recently with BoH and there are no changes to their plans — Mar. 15th is still the closure date.


He said the bank “has gone further down the road with its closure plans to make any changes right away.”