The Community Bank of Amerika Samoa (IO) is filing this month a formal application with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to open anAmerican Samoa-owned bank.
If necessary funds can be raised and federal approval is received, the new bank, an initiative by a group of local residents, hopes to open its
doors in about a year's time.
An update on the bank from the founding group which includes businessmen Avamua Dave Haleck and Lewis Wolman and attorney Marshal Ashley was given during a press conference today to introduce the bank's CEO designee, Gary Ayre, a former CEO for ANZ Amerika Samoa Bank.
The bank needs to raise in excess of $10 million in equity capital in order to meet FDIC requirements and Avamua, who is the interim chairman for the
bank's board of directors, said they've raised close to $5 million so far.
The group has also received about 20 letters of intent to invest in the bank.
Letters of support for Community Bank (IO) were also sent to the FDIC of San Francisco from Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga, Congressman
Faleomavaega Eni, and former deputy assistant secretary of the Department of Interior David Cohen.
Ayre said a resolution showing the Fono's support for the bank is also forthcoming.
Founders of the bank held their first meeting with FDIC in January and Ayre said several meetings will be held with FDIC once the formal application is
The bank expects to get federal approval in the coming months. After that, Ayre said they will focus on formalizing equity, policies and procedures
and corresponding banking relationships with mainland banks.
He says they will do all they can to make sure they set the bank up “as quickly as possible but as properly and effective as possible.”
Ayre said what excites him and the founders of the bank is that Community Bank (IO) is an American Samoa owned and operated bank, and this is the
first time such an opportunity has arisen since 1979 when Amerika Samoa Bank was established.