22 Oct 2016

American Samoa bank to probe disclosure of customer information

12:02 pm on 22 October 2016

Development Bank of American Samoa is investigating the recent disclosure of customer information.

This follows posts on Facebook claiming the Bank's board had been freezing interest payments on loans for a select group which includes the Bank's board members, bank employees and their relatives.

Two officials closely associated with the bank, who spoke to KHJ News, confirmed that freezing the interest on loans had been continued from the previous board and escalated under the current board.

According to the officials, the idea had been to help loans which were in default catch up with payments, and the freeze was supposed to be temporary.

However, no loan that was given this special treatment ever had their interest reinstated.

The sources said top bank officials at the time had advised against this practice and suggested refinancing instead but the bank board did not heed the advice.

The officials told KHJ News the practice has continued under the new board and members with bad loans, some with multi loans all at one time have not had to pay any interest in about a decade.

On Thursday, the bank's president Ruth Matagi Faatili issued a statement saying the interest freeze policy was a special program in effect from January 2010 until December 2010.

The policy and program expired in December 2010 and was no longer in effect.

She said the bank also strongly condemned the theft of customer information and had the highest concern for customer confidentiality.

"The bank is investigating the recent disclosure of customer information and will be taking appropriate action" she said.