Government-Owned Bank In American Samoa To Seek Federal Deposit Insurance

Deposits in the Territorial Bank must be secured by FDIC: Chairman

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, June 28, 2016) – Getting the Territorial Bank of American Samoa (TBAS) to be insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) within a couple of years is a must, and a goal of the government owned financial institution, whose board of directors has set the end of September as the date for the bank to begin operations.

There have been many concerns voiced from both lawmakers and the public that TBAS is not FDIC insured, however ASG officials testified before the Fono in recent months, that the government is serious about getting the FDIC insurance, and this same message has been publicly stated by Gov. Lolo Matalasi  Moliga.

During an interview late last week, Territorial Bancorp Holding Company chairman Utu Abe Malae told Samoa News that one of the “important things to us, is that we have a requirement in our charter... [that] we must become FDIC insured within a couple of years” after TBAS is up and running and “that’s the goal.”

“We have these milestones to reach, in which everything must be done on time,” he said, “and one of the most important milestones for us, for our government, [and] for our people, is to have a bank up and running by the end of September,” said Utu who in March this year outlined before a Senate committee hearing the board’s “39 milestones” in order to get the bank up and running (See Samoa News edition Mar. 31).

The first branch will be at the current location of the Bank of Hawaii at the Centennial Building in Utulei and BoH plans to move out at the beginning of September. It will reoccupy its   former Tafuna branch in the Industrial Park, as ASG has assumed the BoH lease at the Centennial Building.

Asked if the board is confident that the first branch will be opened in September, Utu said, “Yes. We’ve got a lot of ground covered already and we have even more to cover. But the major hurdle in the early stages was the relationship with the Bank of Hawaii, the transition of Bank of Hawaii by early September, and us taking over the Centennial Building (space).”

“We are [also] going through the process of transferring BoH assets to TBAS and that’s a challenge,” he said, adding that TBAS will also take over the Tafuna location of the old BoH branch, later on. (Utu told the Senate earlier this year that BoH’s ATMs will also be transitioned to TBAS.)

Asked if TBAS is looking at setting up a branch in the Manu’a island group, Utu said “we will come up with ways to serve Manu’a”, adding that with improved telecommunications, there will be ways to serve the island group. He also said the newly recruited TBAS chief executive officer, Philip Ware is looking into this issue and has already met with the Manu’a District Governor, Misaalefua Hudson.

Ware, who retired after many years in the banking industry, said it’s very important to get the basic banking services to everyone in American Samoa. However, he says one of the challenges faced by the territory is that American Samoa has a limited labor pool in the banking industry, along with the fact that the territory’s economy is small.

But, according to Ware, he is not discouraged by these challenges and reiterated that it “is our goal to get banking services to everyone.”

On the issue of FDIC insurance, Ware said, “if you want to be FDIC insured, which we certainly want to do, FDIC will not allow a manager that they don’t know run the bank. They will require someone they know, and that’s a challenge.”

Utu added that there are many FDIC policies and regulations to comply with, and every time there is a problem in the banking industry — such as the 2008 meltdown — there are more rules and regulations which the feds come up with for banks to follow.

Samoa News notes that BoH has delayed, since the later part of 2012, its official departure from American Samoa, after Lolo convinced bank officials in Honolulu to remain in American Samoa until a second financial institution — this time the charter bank — is up and running.

The Samoa News
Copyright © 2016. The Samoa News. All Rights Reserved

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Comments

what's the P.O. Box address for the territorial bank please?

i just have a question and the question is, * Does TBAS have a right to go through other banks like Navy Federal Bank, Bankoh, etc,, to gather information so that most of us did not have our loans approved for the very first time? Why?

Is there an official site for the bank? I was told apps would be online, but i cannot seem to locate the site?

Please email me some contacts information about this bank. Thank you

Please i want to know how it works, and is it easy to apply for any services

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