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By Nazario Rodriguez Jr.

KOROR (Palau Horizon, Jan. 4) - A shipping line, which is one of the major depositors in [failed] Palau Pacific Savings Bank (PSB), is outraged saying it strongly feels that the bank’s crisis has seriously affected a lot of people and yet it is not being handled expeditiously or with concern for the victims.

Eurasia Pacific Inc., which is chaired by high chief Ibeduul Yutaka M. Gibbons, asked how long it could afford to sit and wait.

The shipping line said that like most victims of the bank’s closure it is demanding immediate actions from the Financial Institutions Commission and the government "whether they lead to assistance, grace periods, implementation of new policies to help forward, or distribution of funds to the people."

EPI wrote a letter to PSB receiver Kaleb Udui Jr. explaining the company’s current dilemma and hoped that it would get a response as to when its deposited funds at the PSB would be available or what course of action would be taken to help the situation.

"We write also to address our concerns over reports or rumors surrounding PSB. We hope that given the information, you will be in a better position to find solutions to the problem at hand," said the letter, which was furnished to President Remengesau, Senate President Johnny Reklai, House Speaker Augustine Mesebeluu, Minister of Finance Elbuchel Sadang, FIC officials and PSB Board of Directors.

The FIC officials are Gregorio Ngirmang (Chairman), Mason Whipps (Vice Chairman), Kenneth Uyehara, Leoben Teriong, Kaleb Udui Jr., Semdiu G. Decherong (Commissioner).

The PSB Board of Directors are Johnny Reklai, Koichi Wong, Mario Gulibert, Tim Taunton, Tunaka Vovoro, Hideo Termeteet and Tadao Ngotel.

The letter was dated November 21 but it was only on Wednesday December 27 that the HOD released it to the press.

Eurasia said it has one checking account amounting to US$60,500 and a Time Certificate Deposit of US$50,000 that was just opened on September 8, 2006.

Aside from High Chief Ibeduul, the other EPI officials include Eric Whipps (Vice Chairman), Jeffrey Titiml (Treasurer), George Rechucher (Director), Ermas Ngira-elbaed (President), Moses Uludong (Vice President) and James A. Scott (Secretary).

EPI said it relies on its checking account for its daily operation, including administrative expenses.

"Because of our weekly shipment schedule, various costs must be paid on a regular basis, including stevedoring, dockage fee, port charges and overtime pay for the government employees and entry permits," EPI stressed.

It said that non-payment of any of the above mentioned costs would seriously jeopardize the weekly service of its ships.

"We cannot emphasize how much our viability depends on our revolving funds that are kept in our PSB account. It is essential that we have access to our funds to keep weekly ship deliveries from our Asian, Manila and Guam ports on schedule without any delays," EPI said.

Because of this, EPI is demanding FIC to find ways to give the company access to its funds at PSB and wanted to know FIC’s course of action so that it could also make its plans and avoid drastic actions or further damages that might occur to its business operation.

EPI also wanted the FIC to look into unconfirmed reports that funds were requested to be injected into PSB so that some of the board members and families and friends could make withdrawals of funds.

"Also there are reports that friends and families of the FIC members recently withdrew their funds, which also contributed to the downfall. It is also reported that some PSB officials withdrew their funds and left without the FIC or the government taking any action," EPI said.

"Although these reports are unsubstantiated at this time, we would like to request that all of them be investigated, addressed and clarified as no-one should have benefited from inside information while the rest of the community stands on the brink of bankruptcy, financial devastation and ruin," EPI said.

It said that the board of directors and officials, or anybody else connected with them for that matter, should separately and collectively be held responsible and freeze on their assets until it can be determined who abused their positions, enriched themselves, committed wrongdoing and took advantage of the depositors’ money.

EPI wanted why the government has not stepped forward to offer assistance to those people and businesses that were hard hit and have lost everything.

"Is this not a government for the people? We have the Tax Office calling and demanding payment on PSB checks that we used to pay our taxes, without any concern as to whether we have anything left to give. Where is the fairness in all of this?" EPI asked.

It said that Congress is commenting that PSB’s closure is an FIC problem and not theirs because there was no help in the past on other bank closures but asked if ‘Did the government and Congress know there was no FIC then?"

"Have the government and the Congress forgotten the very people they represent who have nothing now? Did they even look at what was being asked of them-that is, to give FIC options to find the best solution to try and return everyone’s money to them?" EPI asked.

EPI said it does not thin it is an inconvenience but rather, a necessary when so many have no funds to operate their businesses, pay the salaries of workers, feed their families, pay their utilities and in general to survive.

EPI asked if the government thinks that waiting is the solution adding that Bank of Hawaii might be one of the few benefiting from this situation by charging a bad check fee for any returned PSB check thus, adding to the damage the people are already enduring.

EPI also asked why certain bank officials were allowed to leave the country in light of this dire situation but did not name names.

It also asked why the FIC appointed Udui as the receiver when he was off-island in the start of the crisis when he should be here addressing the problem and working with whatever skeletons remaining and the victims to assure assistance.

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