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Lawmakers confirm governor's pick for new OFI head

Tuasivi John R. Marsh

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Tuasivi John R. Marsh is the government’s new Commissioner of the Office of Financial Institutions (OFI) replacing Robert Ho Chee, who has served as Commissioner since OFI was first established by law some six years ago.

Tuasivi was confirmed yesterday by the Senate in a 14-3 vote while the House — also yesterday — gave its endorsement in a 16-1 vote. The House on Wednesday held its confirmation hearing and the Senate confirmation hearing was yesterday morning.

Tuasivi’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee — chaired by Sen. Utu Sila Poasa — came at the time when senators were in high spirits following the confirmation hearing yesterday morning for Lefiti Falelaulii Pese as Police Commissioner, overseeing the Department of Public Safety.

Sen. Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono said Tuasivi has served the territory for many years, including in both the government and private sector — overseeing a local bank a few years ago. Furthermore, Tuasivi is well qualified for such an important post.

Soliai reminded his colleagues that Lefiti’s confirmation hearing went quite well and that the high spirit continues on with Tuasivi’s confirmation hearing. He recommended that same mood and spirit be carried out with Tuasivi and moved to dismiss the witness and for the committee to move forward with its work.

Other senators agreed, including Sen. Malaepule Saite Moliga, who had one question for the nominee. “How’s your health?” the Manu’a senator asked and Tuasivi gave a simple reply, “very good.”

Sen. Fai’ivae Iuli Godinet said that the question asked by Malaepule is his as well. “I don’t question your ability and experience of taking over this post,” Fai’ivae informed Tuasivi. “That was my only concern, your health.”

“We thank you for your service to our territory and to our people. And we wish you the best,” he added.

A handful of Treasury Department officials and the nominee’s relatives were in the audience to show their support for Tuasivi.

Local law states that OFI regulates all financial institutions in the territory, including but not limited to commercial banks, holding companies, credit unions, trust companies and retirement funds, consumer money lenders, money brokers, mortgage loan originators, collection agencies, money transfer services, debt settlement service providers and any ASG-owned financial and depository institution.

OFI is overseen by a Commissioner, who is appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Fono.