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New Territorial Bank expected to open October 3

The government owned Territorial Bank of American Samoa (TBAS) is expected to open Oct. 3rd at the previous location of Bank of Hawaii’s Utulei branch at the Centennial Building after a brief hand over ceremony held at the former BoH bank branch, around 9a.m. yesterday.

As previously reported by Samoa News the ASG has assumed the BoH lease at the Centennial Building, which is owned by the ASG Employees Retirement Fund. And ASG will now pay the same monthly payment of $22,454.38 for the next eleven and half years left in the lease. Once expired, ASG will renegotiate a new lease with the Retirement Fund.

Responding to Samoa News inquiries, the governor’s legal counsel Steven Watson said that at yesterday’s ceremony BoH formally handed over the keys to their now-closed branch to Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga.

BoH moved out of the Utulei location at the close of business last Friday and reopened for business yesterday as its previous branch at the Tafuna Industrial Park.

Representing BoH at the hand-over was Hobbs Lowson, the bank’s Senior Vice President and West Pacific Regional Manager. And he offered a few words and noted that BoH “was gifting their assets in American Samoa to the [territorial] government, and handed the keys” to the governor.

In response, the governor expressed his appreciation to BoH for their many years of service to the territory and people of American Samoa, and thanked the bank’s chairman and chief executive officer, Peter Ho and Lowson, “for the cooperative way the handover and market departure were being handled.”

The governor said in a Samoa News interview in late June that American Samoa “was very fortunate that Bank of Hawaii gave us time, so we could get another bank here.” And he expressed sincere appreciation to Ho and the BoH board for accepting “my request to remain here until such time that local banking needs are adequately served.”

Three board members of the Territorial Bancorp Holding Company, which oversees TBAS, were present at the handover ceremony and they were presented with the keys by the governor, who also wished them well in their efforts to get TBAS “open and successfully operating.” The three board members present were Watson, Salaia Gabbard, and Ruth Matagi-Fa'atili.

Other board members are: Utu Abe Malae (chairman), Papali’i Lauli’i Alofa, Alo Dr. Paul Stevenson, and Commerce Director Keniseli Lafaele.

According to a TBAS official, they have now moved into the BoH space and they’re working on setting up the bank with furniture, supplies, equipment, etc., with next week slated for Teller Training.

TBAS will continue to inform the public through it’s “Coming Soon” ad campaign which will include articles to explain the history of the bank and the journey made to open next month, as well as a schedule of its products and services — when they will come available.

When it first opens its doors, the bank is to offer basic deposit services, such as checking and savings, with loans and other services to be phased in over the following months, according to a TBAS official.

The handover comes at the same time that the Faoa and Sanitoa gubernatorial team put out the latest round of campaign ads and this time, one of them is critical of the government owning a bank.

In a full page advertisement in yesterday’s Samoa News, the Faoa and Sanitoa team, points to the new TBAS, owned by the government, saying, “We need only look at the previously failed attempts with the Bank of American Samoa (1969), the local ASG Employees Federal Credit Union (1993), and the struggling Development Bank of American Samoa (DBAS), to see that ASG should not engage in an enterprise that is best suited for the private sector.”

It further points out that ASG proposes to use $15 million from American Samoa Economic Development Authority bonds to start-up TBAS. And the interest rate for the bonds is about 14%.

“That means the only way TBAS will make money is to charge more than 14% to its customers,” the Faoa and Sanitoa ad alleges.


See Samoa News yesterday for the advertisement.