Pacific Rim Bank, which holds several mortgages secured by Hokukano Ranch land, is one of the newest lending institutions in Honolulu, having been founded in 2006. Its young age is not the only thing setting it apart from more established banks. Four members of PRB’s board of directors (out of a total of seven) have close ties to the Hawai`i Family Forum, a group that has been active in advancing conservative social causes at the state Capitol:
- Austin Imamura, chairman and CEO of the bank, is vice president, treasurer, and a director of Hawai`i Family Forum, according to records at the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs;
- Francis Oda, bank director and executive with Group 70 International, is chairman of Hawai`i Family Forum and was one of its founders;
- Kelly Rosati, another bank director, was executive director of HFF for 10 years before moving into the national spotlight, as a vice president of Focus on the Family, the group founded by James Dobson;
- Ernest Lum, a bank director and president of Ernest K.F. Lum Construction, Inc., is an HFF director as well.
When the bank opened, it announced that it would give 10 percent of its profits to nonprofit organizations. Environment Hawai`i asked Melvin Tanaka, a bank vice president, what criteria the bank used in deciding on which organizations would receive donations. Tanaka responded that the bank was profitable only in its second year and that it gave some money to charities then – “not churches,” he said, but charities. He did not provide further details.
Tanaka said there were no links between the Family Forum and the bank. Rather, he said, the bank’s directors were all respected businessmen and community leaders.
The bank holds the Jawmin note to Hokukano Ranch as security for other credit it has extended to the ranch. Tanaka was asked why the bank has not been represented in the bankruptcy proceedings. He indicated the bank was aware of Jawmin’s bankruptcy petition and was confident the bank’s interests would be protected by Hokukano Ranch attorneys.
(The Hawai`i Family Forum was in the news last month, when its annual filing with the Internal Revenue Service disclosed that it had to pay the IRS a penalty of $20,741 for ‘excessive lobbying’ conducted in 2009.)