United States citizen and veteran Cody Spence, residing in FSM with his family, was interrogated by FSM police officers last week over him receiving the US Economic Impact Payments (EIP), US federal assistance aimed at mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an interview with Island Times, Mr. Spence said that the FSM police came to his work place, read him his rights and questioned him about how he qualified for the EIP payment, how many payments were received and the amount.
He said that the FSM officers were very polite but the whole thing was upsetting for him. “I showed them my tax returns and answered all their questions and they left,” expressed Mr. Spence. He said he was quite shaken by the experience.
FSM officers told Mr. Spence that his name was on the list of names provided by Bank of Guam in Pohnpei to the police to investigate for possible fraud.
Another US citizen, Mr. Craig Reffner in Pohnpei, one of the people suing Bank of Guam for withholding and returning their EIP payments back to IRS, said that some of the FSM citizens that have been questioned, were intimidated by the questioning and pulled out of the lawsuit. He said that months ago, Bank of Guam had sent list of names of their depositors whom they believed committed fraud on the US to the FSM Department of Justice. He also alleged that Bank of Guam called local vendors warning them not to accept US stimulus checks.
Mr. Reffner that so many people have been placed in tough positions because of these acts.
Group of FSM citizens and US citizens in FSM sued Bank of Guam this year for taking money deposited into their accounts by IRS and returning it back without their consent. In their lawsuit they argued that the bank has no right to take out their deposits without their consent or court order and giving it to someone else or returning it back to IRS. Bank of Guam had moved to dismiss the suit saying that plaintiffs did not meet the IRS eligibility requirements and that they should have enjoined US IRS as party to the suit.
The cases are still before the FSM Supreme Court.