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By Agnes M. Abrau and Bernadette Carreon

KOROR, Palau (Palau Horizon, Dec. 7) – Nearly 200 depositors of Pacific Savings Bank gathered at Hokkons Place in Malakal [Koror, Palau] early Wednesday night in what could be their first public gathering to discuss ways on how to expedite process in recovering their deposits.

Sen. Joshua Koshiba spearheaded the meeting, saying that he was there to help depositors recover their money. A private lawyer from Hawaii, Roy T. Chikamoto, was also present to answer questions from the depositors. Chikamoto represents businesswoman Jennifer Yano who is also a depositor of the bank.

In an interview, Koshiba said he was at the meeting to help taxpayers who were "duped." Koshiba said the gathering was called to get consensus of depositors whether they are willing to file a class action suit against the bank.

"I’m here as a senator," Koshiba said. The senator is one of the first lawmakers who showed up in public to throw support to Pacific Savings Bank depositors. The bank has 7,500 depositors.

For his part, Atty. Chikamoto said he is in Palau to get a better understanding of what and how the bank’s closure and insolvency happened.

Chikamoto told depositors that he is not there to prosecute but to help them get their money back.

Chikamoto told the media after the meeting that there is a possibility that a class civil suit might be filed "fairly shortly." Chikamoto will leave early today but said he will be back soon to gather more information about the Pacific Savings Bank.

Chikamoto, who Koshiba described "as an expert in the field", having had 24 years of experience in collection work, answered questions from many depositors that night. It was not known how many have signed up to file a class action suit.

Koshiba said that the Senate will likely pass the House Joint Resolution that was recently passed by the House of Delegates urging the president of the Republic of Palau to employ an outside, independent attorney, with no prior relationship with the Republic of Palau or Pacific Savings Bank, to investigate and prosecute all violations of the law related to the mismanagement and insolvency of Pacific Savings Bank.

The resolution authored by Delegates Joel Toribiong, Kerai Mariur, Noah Secharraimul, Florencio Yamada and House Vice Speaker Okada Techitong.

Koshiba also said that the senators would ask Senate President Johnny Reklai, one of the major shareholders of the now defunct Pacific Savings Bank, to "stay away from the discussion" of Pacific Savings Bank once the Senate tackles the issue on the floor.


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