Commerce Secretary Sixto K. Igisomar, as the CNMI banking director, met with the newly created CNMI Pawnbrokers Association, on Friday, Oct. 26, to strengthen efforts to combat the rampant burglaries on the islands.
The CNMI Pawnbrokers Association, under the leadership of president Wilfredo Ching and board of directors chair Jhun Calma, along with its nine members, came together because of Administrative Notice No. 12-01, which Igisomar issued on Oct. 10, 2012. The notice informed all pawnbrokers about the existence of Commonwealth Code, Title 4 section 5641 et. seq. Mainly, the reminder is on application requirements, asset minimum requirements, customer fees, business hours, and reporting requirements.
At the meeting, Igisomar stressed that the notice is simply a starting point for a dialogue.
“Understanding pawnbrokers gives us a better perspective on how we can better support our community as we mutually counter the ongoing burglaries,” said Igisomar. “With so many pawnbrokers, we need to make sure the community and the brokers themselves are protected, through regular compliance checks and notices.”
A proposed House Bill 17-279 is currently circulating with the intention of providing police officers full access to pawnbrokers when investigating purported stolen items.
Banking examiner Magdalena “Maggie” C. Camacho, who accompanied Igisomar at the meeting, said: “In realigning the pawnbrokers (aka pawnshops) to what the existing law and regulations require, and if they are diligent, compliance should not be exhaustive.”
There are currently 19 pawnshops in the CNMI, with 18 on Saipan, and one on Rota. There is no pawnshop on the island of Tinian. Of the total 19 shops in the CNMI, they are owned by eight different owners.
Although the notice is just a reiteration and reminder of existing laws and regulations, the pawnbroker association members were a bit concerned, as some of the requirements may be steep, especially with respect to required minimum assets, and limitations on fees.
“We decided to reactivate the association and reorganize ourselves, in response to Secretary Igisomar's Administrative Notice No. 12-01, which placed all the pawnbrokers on notice,” stated Ching. “We believe as a group, we can better monitor and voice our interest collectively, as well as better protect our community.”
Additionally, Ching stressed that all the members be composed of all pawnshop owners on island.
“Contrary to public belief that we support criminal activities, that is not so, as we actually and indirectly deter criminal activities by requiring photocopying of individual identification card for all transactions 110 percent of the time,” said Ching. “Therefore, the association pledged to cooperate with the government to counter criminal activities that may involve pawn dealings.” (Office of the Governor)