The headquarters of the Saipan casino operator Imperial Pacific International (IPI) have once again been raided by the Federal Office of Investigation.
Local media reported on Thursday that FBI agents had conducted search warrants for IPI Finance and Human Resources offices, as well as for consultant Alfred Yue, a licenced IPI lobbyist.
Several other offices were searched by the FBI, including Ralph Torres, Governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). The CNMI is part of the U.S. and thus falls within the jurisdiction of the FBI.
Reportedly, the FBI also raided the home and car of Torres, as well as the offices of a law firm owned by brothers of Torres. Jason White, FBI Honolulu Media Manager, told KUAM News that the FBI should beef up our presence in Saipan to simultaneously execute all warrants.
IPI issued a statement to remind people of CNMI that “we continue to be law-abiding and good corporate citizens.” IPI vowed to comply with law enforcement agencies, maintaining that it “nothing to hide.”
Likewise, the governor’s office issued a statement saying that it was certain there was “no reason for concern.” Torres provided a personal statement saying that he had the “highest respect” for law enforcement and would provide “the fullest measure of cooperation to any of[ the FBI’s] requests of me and of my staff.” The FBI raided IPI headquarters in March 2017, later disclosing that the investigation was prompted by “allegations of a federal violation of the occupational visa system,” including recruiting unauthorised Chinese construction workers to complete the long-delayed Imperial Palace Resort of IPI.
The FBI allegedly returned for more in March 2018, making vague references to “public corruption” as a “top criminal investigative priority,” shortly after Bloomberg revealed that IPI had made “millions of dollars in payments to family members,” of Gov Torres prompting many CNMI politicians to say that IPI “runs this country.” IPI was also accused of failing to pay the small taxes it is required to pay by the CNMI government.