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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (August 13, 2002 – Samoa News)---The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Comptroller for Currency (OCC) issued a nationwide alert late last week to all financial institutions throughout the U.S. warning that an American company is conducting the "unauthorized sale of Samoan Banking Licenses" on the Internet.

The August 8 alert was in response to a complaint filed on July 25 by the Samoa government's Office of the Registrar of International and Foreign Companies against Witherspoon, Seymour & Robinson Inc. (WSR Inc.).

The alert, signed by Brian C. McCormally, director of OCC's Enforcement and Compliance Division, was also forwarded to the U.S. Federal Reserve System and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

OCC was alerted in a July 25 letter from Erna Vaai, Inspector of Offshore Banks at the Samoa government's Registrar of International & Foreign Companies, based in Apia.

Vaai said WSR Inc. has been advertising, on the Internet, the availability of capital management companies registered in Samoa, and is soliciting buyers for pre-approved banking licenses allegedly in Samoa and other Pacific Island jurisdictions.

WSR Inc.'s information package specifically recommends Samoa as a place to register an offshore bank for U.S. residents while the American state of Delaware is recommended for non-U.S. residents.

"For U.S. residents we recommend the registration on an offshore island like Samoa. Forming an offshore company means that you only pay a fixed annual amount. For Delaware or Samoa e.g. this annual fee is about US$ 300," said WSR Inc. in its promotion package.

"No more taxes on your income, interests or anything else. You also do not need to file a tax declaration, which means no more tax advisory fees. Nobody knows or wants to know how much money you're earning," it added.

The company offers a variety of reasons for letting them handle your business including its claim that registration of a company in the U.S. can be achieved within hours without appearing in person.

WSR Inc. offers company formation kits in offshore jurisdictions for US$ 1,490 and "if you wish to incorporate with anonymity, the total fees are US$ 2,990."

WSR Inc. claims it has offshore jurisdiction for corporations in Samoa, Niue, Nauru and Vanuatu in the South Pacific.

WSR Inc. further claims that "the capital management company, registered in Samoa, allows you to receive, manage and invest other peoples assets" without any personal references, waiting periods or security deposits.

Not so, according to Vaai in her letter to OCC, noting that applicants must go through "rigorous screening" for an offshore banking license.

Vaai said WSR Inc. "is not and never has been a licensed trustee company in Samoa and has no authority to sell Samoan companies, banks or any other entities."

In addition, the Samoa government has not authorized WSR Inc. as its representative in the marketing and promotion of the Samoa Offshore Finance Center.

"The Samoa Offshore Finance Center does license offshore banks, but only after a rigorous screening, vetting and due diligence process. All license applications must be submitted through a licensed trustee company," Vaai explained.

"The Samoa Offshore Finance Centre does not and has never allowed pre-approved banking licenses," she concluded.

Vaai is overseas, according to her office yesterday.

A woman answering the telephone for WSR Inc., at the company's New York City office, told the Samoa News yesterday that the office is closed and she could not comment.

The Samoa government claims that WSR Inc. also has offices in Chicago, Miami and Beverly Hills (California).

Items from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to

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

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