9 Apr 2004

American Samoa bank loans questioned

10:16 am on 9 April 2004

The government-owned Development Bank of American Samoa is being investigated by an anti-corruption committee after records suggested favourtism in the approval of loans.

A total of 2-point-6 million US dollar was loaned out to Development Bank employees and members of the bank's Board of Directors up to 2001 while the number of residents who had been on the waiting list for loans for years was in the hundreds.

A list of loan recipients between January 1999 and December 2000 shows that many administration supporters, cabinet members, judges and lawmakers received loans ranging between 50-thousand to 175-thousand dollars.

In the same period the remainder of bank customers received loans of between 7-thousand and 15-thousand dolalrs.

A local newspaper says in some cases Bank employees would apply for both a mortagage and a business loan and received them both.

The Senate Select Investigative Committee is scheduled to conduct another hearing with the Bank Chairman Liufau Sonoma when he arrives back from off-island.