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Governor met with FDIC officials earlier this month in DC

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Governor Lemanu P. S. Mauga met earlier this month with high-ranking officials from the U.S. Treasury Department, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the White House to enlist federal support for the Governor’s effort to have a federally insured financial institution operating in American Samoa.

A statement from the Governor’s Office said that the “meetings were very productive.”

 “We explained to the federal officials why regulatory flexibility is warranted to ensure that our people can have the same access to banking services that people in the rest of the country have. I think they understand us and are willing to work with us.”

FDIC Senior Counsel Mark Flanigan and several other senior FDIC officials discussed with the governor various scenarios under which the Territorial Bank of American Samoa (TBAS) might be put on the path to obtaining FDIC insurance.

Last month, TBAS Manager David Buehler told House members that FDIC confirmed that until TBAS comes under “private ownership” only then would it “entertain an application for insurance.”

Furthermore, Buehler said he met with FDIC officials in San Francisco and their concern is that TBAS is government owned.

He suggested that “private ownership comes in and becomes majority ownership, which would then be in control, which would then allow the FDIC to entertain an application for insurance.”

Asked whether any steps have been taken to move it to a privately owned bank, Mr Buehler replied that the board has not approved putting the bank on the market for sale.

“However we do have one unsolicited offer from a private group. The governor has been clear to the directors of the board that as long as the government remains in control, that’s what he wants.

“He’s not going to allow the bank ownership to be in a minority position — and therefore so long as ASG is in control, the FDIC will not entertain an application,” said Buehler.

According to the statement released by the government over the weekend, at a separate meeting with Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Institutions Graham Steele and other senior Treasury officials, they suggested various ways in which American Samoa might obtain federal technical assistance in its effort to improve financial services in the territory.