Police launch investigation into Tonga Development Bank after complaints

A Police investigation is underway into Tonga Development Bank (TDB) following complaints, a statement said this morning.

Tonga Development Bank.Photo/Kalino Lātū

It said the Police are currently responding to a complaint regarding an alleged breach of Banking Act, though it is unclear which law was breached as the statement failed to mention any to back its claim.

However, it said the Police would provide no further details “in order to protect the integrity of the investigation and to ensure fairness.”

“This matter is under active investigation.”

The news was the latest twist in the TDB controversy.

As Kaniva News reported last week, reports claimed TDB chief executive ‘Emeline Tuita and board of directors chairman Peni Vea had been allegedly stood down.

We previously reported that the bank had faced speculation and controversy surrounding a proposal to construct a luxury centre on royal land  in Tonga.

We reported claims that the Cost Low Company has filed an application for an Injunction on a  Mortgage Notice issued by TDB.

The dispute appears to date from a meeting in March last year between Tonga Development Bank CEO Emeline Tuita and the head of Royco Group, owners of Cost Low, Charlotte Cocker Tu’i’ile’ila.

It is understood, the Governor of NRBT, Tatafu Moeaki, had proposed to bar Tuita and Vea from returning to office.

Yesterday, TDB released a statement claiming it “Inquiries regarding interactions with National Reserve Bank of Tonga”.

It said the move was regrettably made after confidential communications had been leaked.

“We regret that confidential communications between NRBT and TDB have been deliberately leaked, causing grave misconceptions and unnecessary confusion among our customers and the public.”

“These matters should remain confidential and handled professionally and via the proper channels to ensure confidence in the stability of the country’s financial system is maintained.”

The bank claimed it is “on track for another year of strong profitability”, with a Liquid Assset Ratio of 15% and Risk-Weighted Capital position of 23% “well above the statutory minimum of 15%”.

They said: “TDB’s customers can have full confidence that TDB is financially well-positioned to continue serving the Kingdom as its only locally owned bank.

“TDB’s major shareholder has committed to injecting additional capital to support our growth strategy.”

Sometimes when a business is growing, it needs a little help.

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