Thursday, April 30, 2015

Palik and Adolph report on Compact Trust Fund FY2014 performance

Mr. Aren Palik and Ms. Evelyn Adolph represent the Federated States of Micronesia on the five-member Joint Trust Fund Committee. On April 21, they provided a release on the FY14 Trust Fund Annual Report on the official website for the FSM Office of Statistics, Budget and Economic Management, Overseas Development Assistance, and Compact Management, along with a link to the report itself.

In short, the report shows a "net position" of $380.9 million, compared to the previous year's net position of $323.1 million.

View the release and the report via the link hereunder.

Bank directors say BFSM well positioned for difficult years ahead

FSMIS (April 30, 2015): A recent letter to its 4,500 plus shareholders from the Bank of the Federated States of Micronesia (BFSM) portraits some successful outcomes for the institution in spite of difficult financial and market conditions all around in recent times.
The BFSM announces "a stable and consistent 2014 year" to its owners and shareholders.
"Recurring records have become a feature of Bank in recent years and 2014 was no exception; we closed the year with record Assets, record Deposits, record levels of Capital and record Asset Backing per Share; but most importantly - the best core business base, banking model, asset quality and risk diversification in our history", the bank officers state.

some financial highlights:

-- For the year ending December 31, 2014 the bank earned a net profit of $1,310,643 ($1.41 a share) compare to $1,352,112 ($1.45 a share)  in fy2013.

-- Lending was at $41.1 million compared to $42.5M in 2013.

-- Deposits increased by $11 million, maxing at $104 million compared to $93M in 2013.

To bolster its onward sustainable banking growth, the BFSM continues to exhibit controlled business expectations while taking on modest new operations and products domestically. At the same time, it ventures into out-of-territory services expansion by opening a Hawaii limited service branch, re-opening a Loan Production Office in the Northern Mariana Islands, and aspiring to obtain business license to extend lending service within another Micronesian jurisdiction.
The BFSM is the only foreign bank that is FDIC insured outside the United States.

On the challenge side, the bank also feels a declining trend in revenues and other benefits due in large part to low interest rate environment, continuing effects of global economic and financial strain, and uncertainties stemming from declining Compact revenues and slow roll out of expected military station buildup in the region, especially Guam.

In spite of foreseen challenges, and based on business experience and growth portfolio, the bank has underscored its capacity to pursue diligent operations carefully and stay on a profitable track in future years.  
The bank's Annual Shareholders Meeting will take place during the month of May, 2015 in Kosrae, according to information released by the bank.

Current Board of Directors include:

Mr. Larry Adams, Chairman
Mr. Robert Andreas, Vice Chairman
Ms. Anna Mendiola
Mr. Patrick Mackenzie
Mr. John Sohl
Mr. Tony Ganngiyan
Ms. Senny Phillip

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

European Union Ambassador Andrew Jacobs visits FSM

Palikir, Pohnpei: April 27, 2015 -  His Excellency Andrew Jacobs, Ambassador of the European Union to the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) was accompanied by his staff Mr. Martin Chong on a visit to the FSM from 23 – 29, April 2015. The purpose of Ambassador Jacobs’ visit was to discuss issues surrounding the relationship of cooperation between the European Union and FSM. Ambassador Jacobs is cross-accredited to the FSM from Suva, Fiji. He presented his credentials to President Mori in May of 2013.

On April 23, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Lorin S. Robert hosted a dinner for Ambassador Jacobs. Among matters discussed at the dinner, Ambassador Jacobs and Secretary Robert also discussed the Universal Periodic Review, the results of the election and FSM’s future plans.
On the following day, Ambassador Jacobs met with Assistant Secretary Hubert Yamada of the Department of Resources and Development and the FSM National Authorizing Officer (NAO), Mr. Gillian Doone, at the Office of SBOC. During the Ambassador’s meeting with SBOC they signed an addendum to the financing agreement for the NorthREP project. The addendum provides an extension to the duration of the NorthREP project beyond the recent end date of 15 April 2015 by 6 months to 15 October 2015.

Ambassador Jacobs participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony for the rehabilitation of the Pohnpei Hydro-plant in Nanpil, Nett one of the NorthRep projects in the FSM. Those in attendance were Secretary Robert, Director of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Mr. Gerald Sackios, Assistant Secretary Hubert Yamada, Mr. Kadalino Lorens, Director of Pohnpei State Economic Affairs, and Mr. Nixon Anson, Assistant General Manager of Power Distribution and Generation of PUC. Ambassador Jacobs departed Pohnpei for Yap on Saturday, April 25, 2015.
While in Yap, Ambassador Jacobs visited Ulithi and Fais to assess the damage of Typhoon Maysak for the purpose of rehabilitating NorthREP projects in those areas. The Ambassador will call on Governor Tony Ganngiyan and Lt. Governor James Yangetamai while in Yap.

President Obama's Letter to President Mori Regarding Emergency Declaration for Typhoon Maysak

Please click on the following to view President Obama's Letter to President Mori

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Sentencing for Civil Rights Violations Against Slavery and Involuntary Servitude in the Chuuk “Blue House” Case

Weno, Chuuk— On April 23, 2015, Acting Chief Justice Ready Johnny found the defendant, Silisio a.k.a. “Sirco” Tipingeni guilty on all ten charges brought by the FSM government in FSM v. Tipingeni, Criminal Action 2013-037. The Department of Justice’s criminal information included eight counts of criminal deprivation of the civil right against slavery and involuntary servitude, one count of aggravated money laundering, and one count of aggravated criminal mischief.  Justice Johnny imposed a one-year sentence for each count, to be served consecutively for a total of ten years.  The sentence includes probation with conditions that include:  (1) home confinement in Uman except for medical emergencies; and, (2) twenty weekends at the Chuuk State jail with the balance of the incarceration suspended on the condition the defendant successfully complete probation.  Acting Chief Johnny noted that this was the first case of its kind prosecuted in the FSM and that it was important to make a statement that such crimes will be punished in the FSM. FSM Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General Aaron Warren handled the case for the FSM Government. FSM Chief Public Defender, Julius J. Sapelalut, handled the defense.

In its opening statement at trial, the Government contended that the defendant’s role as the primary recruiter in Chuuk was critical to carrying out a criminal enterprise that involved multiple co-conspirators both in Guam and in Chuuk. During its case-in-chief, the Government showed that the defendant recruited eight young Chuukese women to work in Guam based on false promises of legitimate work in restaurants and retail stores. Once the women arrived in Guam, however, the defendant’s co-conspirator, Song Ja Cha, met them at the airport. Their passports were immediately taken and they were taken to the “Blue House Karaoke Bar” where they were told they must work to repay the debt for their travel from Chuuk or they would be arrested. The victims were locked inside the Blue House, and if they protested, they were deprived of food, beaten, and threatened with arrest.  Damning testimony was presented of one of the defendant’s daughters and his niece who corroborated that the defendant had ordered the daughter to return to the Blue House after she ran away despite the daughter’s pleas that she was beaten if she refused to have sex with Blue House customers.  The Government also showed that in 2007, the defendant received over $10,000 in wire transfers, a watch, and other remuneration from Song Ja Cha for the recruitment of the victims. 

In addition to the defendant and Song Ja Cha, other co-conspirators included members of the Guam police force and two Chuukese women who acted as enforcers to intimidate and monitor the victims in order to prevent them from running away from the Blue House. Two other prosecutions, one in the Guam Federal Court and one in the Guam Superior Court, had previously resulted in convictions of Song Ja Cha and the other co-conspirators. 

The investigation and preparation for trial was the result of unprecedented cross-jurisdictional coordination and assistance between the FSM and U.S. governments.  In response to a request for assistance from the FSM government, the U.S. government authorized the Guam and Honolulu FBI offices to provide technical, logistical, and financial assistance for the prosecution.  Honolulu based FBI victims specialist Monica Rowsey facilitated the travel and preparation of victims to testify at trial, and the preparation of victim impact statements for sentencing. Guam based FBI Special Agent Jason Dodd assisted throughout the preparation of the case by facilitating authorization for evidence held by U.S. authorities to be released to the FSM Department of Justice for use in the case; locating and coordinating meetings with witnesses in Guam, Saipan, Honolulu, and the mainland U.S.; and by providing technical expertise and support to the prosecution. FBI Special Agent Jason Dodd also testified for the FSM government both at trial and at sentencing, providing critical testimony showing the connection between the defendant’s recruitment in Chuuk and the criminal exploitation of the victims in Guam, the long term trauma to the victims, and the financial greed that motivated the defendant to trick and deceive his own daughters and relations into conditions of slavery.

The underlying events in the case took place primarily during 2006 and 2007 when the victims were recruited from Chuuk. By the time of trial, most of the key witnesses no longer resided in the FSM. However, all but one of the alleged victims and other key eye witnesses testified for trial, some by live testimony and others by video recording that was prepared at the FBI Field Office in Guam. Those victims who returned to Chuuk to testify were briefly reunited with their families who they had not seen since their recruitment to Guam in 2007.

Human trafficking charges under the Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012 (Public Law 17-38) could not be charged in the Chuuk case, as the events occurred before the 2012 law went into effect.  However, in his closing argument, AAG Warren remarked that although the case was brought under the criminal civil rights provision and other provisions of the FSM Code, the case was “a textbook” example of human trafficking.  In the U.S. State Department’s most recent annual Trafficking in Persons report, the FSM was upgraded to Tier 2 from Tier 2 Watchlist due in large part to the priority placed by the FSM Government on addressing human trafficking through dedicated initiatives for public awareness and law enforcement. The successful investigation and prosecution of human trafficking offenses are key criteria that are evaluated in the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons report.

Monday, April 27, 2015

GEF Small Grant Program holds annual NSC meeting in Yap

Press Release
GEF Small Grants Programme FSM
National Steering Committee Meeting held in Colonia, Yap

April 13-14, 2015, the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme-FSM (GEF SGP) convened its annual National Steering Committee (NSC) meeting in Colonia, Yap State at the Small Business Development Center conference room.  The meeting reaffirmed the Programme’s core commitment to continue to enhance its grant making support to all FSM NGOs, and Community-Based Organizations to access the available GEF resources within the country.  Through funding portfolios from the GEF CORE and STAR funds and additional SIDS-CBA funding provided by the Australian Aid partnership, the SGP FSM Programme committed to an ambitious goal to grant over $800,000 hundred thousand USD remaining in 2015 to provide support to community driven projects that aim to mitigate threats to the FSM environment and support community empowerment and sustainable livelihoods development.  

At this meeting the NSC reviewed a number of proposals from NGOs and CBOs and approved $100,000.00 in support of community projects.  The NSC also visited a number of grantee partners in their communities to learn firsthand work being carried out by the grantee partners. In addition, the Programme also hosted the first grantee peer learning exchange among the Yap grantees network held at the Marina Bar and Grill restaurant. 

The SGP Programme National Coordinator Mr. Patterson Shed and some NSC members later participated in the FSM GEF-6 portfolio prioritization exercise from 16-17 April also held in Yap. SGP FSM put forth its proposal for fund replenishment under the Country GEF-6 STAR fund allocation with adoption and strong support by the participants.  SGP FSM was also given the opportunity to highlight Programme progress to date through presentation at the workshop. 

The SGP is a funding modality of the GEF, approved by the GEF Council on a replenishment basis and implemented by UNDP on behalf of the GEF partnership.  The Programme seeks to provide maximum country, and community-level ownership.  As a global Programme, the SGP brings together over 125 country programmes across world regions.  Within the FSM, the Programme is hosted by the United Nations Joint Presence Initiative office (UN JPI) located on Kaselehlie Street in Pohnpei. SGP FSM is optimistic that the FSM government will continue to co-fund the Programme to be able to maintain same level of support to communities across the country.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The People’s Republic of China donates $500,000 to FSM Maysak response efforts

FSMIS (April 22, 2015): In the presence of the Federated States of Micronesia President Manny Mori, FSM Secretary of Foreign Affairs Lorin Robert and the People's Republic of China Ambassador to the FSM, H.E. Li Jie, undertook a signing ceremony in Palikir on April 21st.

The PRC Government is providing $500,000 US dollar to the FSM to assist recovery measures for the people of Chuuk and Yap who have been mercilessly affected by Super Typhoon Maysak.

In an ad-lib statement made during the ceremony, the Ambassador mentioned that China gives "eyes and ears" to the disaster development and has decided to remit the amount as a kind gesture of support. He also stated his belief that recovery for Chuuk and Yap will take some time. 

Ambassador Jie visited Chuuk when flights resumed after the storm.

In responding, Secretary Robert expressed the gratitude of the FSM people and Government to the People and Government of the People's Republic of China for their "critical and important" assistance, which he feels will not only be useful for recovery efforts but will "strengthen bilateral relations that the two governments and peoples have come to enjoy".

The relief assistance will be deposited into the Disaster Relief Fund, which got established after President Mori declared a state of emergency for both States.

The disaster response operation is being coordinated by the FSM Office of Environment and Emergency Management (OEEM).

For further information email  or call the OEEM at 320-8815/8814.

Yap High School Upward Bound students interact with FSM President Mori

FSMIS (April 22, 15): On April 21, 2015, fourteen Upward Bound students from Yap High School, along with two teacher chaperons, made a visit at the Office of the President.

Mr. Serphin Ileisuyalo, one of the accompanying teachers, explained that the program familiarizes high school students with the College of Micronesia main campus and allows for visits to the FSM National Government branches, departments, and offices to boost learning exposures to the ways of their government.

The students were accorded an audience with FSM President Manny Mori at the President’s Conference Room.

The President discussed the components of the Executive Branch and shared his reflection on the past eight years. As part of his conversation with the students, he also stressed the need for college students to remain focus and move into graduate level programs before they consider marriage. He urged the students to concentrate on personal development opportunities in vocational trades and strive for the graduate level mainstream educational pathway – a paramount challenge for most Micronesian students.

The students on their part were keen on discussing leadership qualifications, especially as they may apply for public office aspirants at the National Government. They also were very curious about the 2023 Action Plan and how it relates to financial and economic challenges beyond Compact grants.

After their interactive conversation with the President, the student group went on to meet with the FSM Department of Education, the Judicial Branch, and the Congress Office. They will leave for Yap on Thursday, April 23rd.

For further information, email