SCAM TRIGGERS SCARE, BANKS CLOSE IN SOLOMONS

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MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, May 12) - The financial
sector in Solomon Islands is in disarray, with banks closing after threats to
their Honiara offices over a pyramid money-making scam.

Hundreds of people who invested money in the 'Family Charity
Trust Fund' last week began besieging the banks and demanding payouts.

The trust has lured thousands of people into paying US$34 each
with the promise that they would be paid $165,000 a month later.

In a special meeting on Sunday night, the country’s three
commercial banks - Westpac, the Australia and New Zealand Banking Corporation (ANZ)
and the National Bank of Solomon Islands, agreed to close in protest against
customer threats.

The Central Bank will also stay closed today in support of the
commercial banks.

ANZ chartered a flight over the weekend and flew its management
and their families out of the country after threats were made to blow up the
bank.

The banks say they will remain closed until they are satisfied
the safety of their staff, management and property are guaranteed.

Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corp. says it understands the money
collected by the trust has been taken to Fiji. Police have confirmed the trust
has no known bank account in the Solomons..

May 12, 2003

Radio Australia:
http://www.abc.net.au/ra

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