4 Jul 2005

American Samoa senate receives more bank files

9:18 am on 4 July 2005

American Samoa's Senate has received more files about government accounts held by the territory's two commercial banks.

The latest files were delivered by the Deputy Director of the Territorial Office for Fiscal Reform, James Galeai.

The Senate was also expecting files from the Treasury but a representative failed to appear before the Committee examining the accounts.

Acting Treasurer Francis Leasiolagi who had been subpoenaed to appear was off-island.

The Fiscal Reform Office files listed 20 government accounts with local banks, 13 of them investment accounts under the American Samoa Petroleum Cooperative.

The investment accounts attracted a lot of attention from senators.

Senator Tuaolo Furean said it was the first time that he had heard of the administration having investment accounts.

Questions were raised about whether the Co-op was circumventing the Fono's appropriation authority by spending interest from the investment accounts without the legislature's approval

Senators are now considering the possibility of channeling the interest from those accounts to the financially troubled LBJ Medical Centre.

Treasury submitted a list of 28 bank accounts with Bank of Hawaii along with copies of signature cards.

Senate Counsel Roy JD Hall said Treasury had not fully complied with the subpoena by not submitting all of the information requested and not having a representative present at the hearing.

After some discussion the Senate decided that a new subpoena be issued to Treasury.

If it still fails to comply, then the Senate can issue an order to show cause for contempt.