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Governor once again directs closure of bank accounts not maintained by Treasury

It appears that some cabinet members are not adhering to a previous directive from Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga to close bank accounts that are maintained separately by ASG departments and offices.

In a Feb. 13 memo to his cabinet members, Lolo says a directive was issued some time ago instructing all directors to close all bank accounts that are maintained separately by the department or office.

However, he said it has come to his attention that some directors have not heeded the policy.

Accordingly, the governor wrote, the articulated policy calling for the closure of all bank accounts managed by individual departments and agencies is reaffirmed.

“There is no (exception) to this policy,” the governor stressed and noted that the American Samoa Government has one Treasurer, who is authorized by law to maintain all government funds.

“To this end, the balance of the funds in the account is to be transferred to the [ASG] Treasurer to be kept in the appropriate government accounts ensuring proper custody of said funds,” he said; and directed that all separately maintained bank accounts be closed.

However, in the event time it is required for the closure process to run its course, Lolo said Feb. 28 is the date on which all these independent bank accounts will cease.

The governor’s memo didn’t identify which executive branch agencies failed to comply with the previous directive on the issue.

Prior to the Lolo Administration’s tenure starting in January 2013, lawmakers at the time discovered that some agencies had separate bank accounts, prompting complaints in the Fono because the separate bank accounts, created no oversight by the Treasury Department on funds going in and the monies expended.

One account that was the target of questions at the time was the Road Maintenance Fund, originally administered by the Department of Public Works but later transferred to the Treasury Department.

However, DPW officials complained to lawmakers that with Treasury overseeing this account there has allegedly been delays of road repairs because it takes longer to get approval for the money.

ASG officials revealed at the time that some problems with having separate bank accounts by individual departments and offices has made it difficult to get financial reports, when the government's financial statement go through the end of the fiscal year audit, as well as expenditures not thoroughly documented and bank accounts not properly reconciled.