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SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (June 28, 2002 - Marianas Variety/PINA Nius Online)---Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. plans to venture into the North Pacific islands and is considering establishing branches in the Northern Marianas and Guam.

Gary Ayre, head of the bank’s strategic projects for the Pacific area, and Australian Trade Commissioner Graham Poon are in Saipan meeting with Northern Marianas officials.

ANZ Bank, according to Ayre, is considering "many options" in the Northern Marianas.

They include the establishment of a branch or the acquisition of an existing bank branch, such as the local office of Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corp., which will end operations in the Northern Marianas in December.

Ayre, however, said they have no plans to bail out Bank of Saipan, adding that the local financial institution is in a "complicated" situation.

ANZ Bank is the largest bank in the Pacific Islands region, and one of the top four banks in Australia.

For additional reports from the Marianas Variety, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/ Marianas Variety.



SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (June 28, 2002 – Radio Australia)---The U.S. and Northern Marianas governments have become partners in a renewed effort to crack down on tax fraud.

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service and the Northern Marianas Attorney General's Office are targeting U.S. citizens and green card holders who falsely claim residency in the Northern Marianas in order to take advantage of favorable tax rates.

Special agent of the IRS, Victor Song, says it's evident there are a number of U.S. citizens filing reports of false resident status and taking advantage of the Northern Marianas tax rebate system.

Mr. Song says the number of suspected fraud cases is significant.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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