Council questions registration of “bank” company

18/09/2009 12:13

The Consumer Council is seeking answers as to why a company has been able to register in Fiji under the name “Native Bank of Fiji” despite the Banking Act restricting the use of the word “bank” on a business name or signage without the approval of the Reserve Bank of Fiji (RBF) and Minister for Finance.

The RBF on Thursday had clarified that it was aware that a newly registered company was using the word “bank” for its title signage on its place of business.

The Section 5-(1) of the Banking Act, 1995 states that: "Except with the permission of the Minister, no person other than a bank shall use the word "bank" or any of its derivatives in any language in the description or the title under which that person is carrying on business in Fiji, or make any such representation in any billhead, letter, paper, notice, advertisement or in any other manner whatsoever"

Part 4 of Section 5 states that "...the Reserve Bank shall notify the Registrar of Companies to delete the word "bank" or any derivative thereof from the Registrar of Companies"

Apart from the use of the word “bank” it is also illegal for anyone to conduct banking business without a valid license from the RBF.

The Council questions how this company was registered with Registrar of Companies despite the law clearly restricting the use of the word “bank”. The Registrar of Companies and other agencies involved in the registration or licensing of businesses should exercise due diligence. Consumers are at risk of losing money or being subjected to unscrupulous dealings, when business operating in the country are not vetted properly or rigorous checks made on the nature of their business activities before registration/licensing.

Also of concern is how this company received business licence from the Municipal Council. It seems there is a problem with our regulatory system which is exposing our public to risks rather than protecting the public. The Council would like to see that such risks are screened before the company starts business to boost consumer confidence in the market place.

The Council is asking consumers to take heed of the RBF’s warning and refrain from conducting any business dealings with the Native Bank of Fiji till more information surfaces.