Imperial Pacific International (IPI) has been ordered by the US Attorney’s Office to turn over all communication between the company and Ralph Torres, the governor of the Northern Marianas Islands. IPI has been summoned to testify before a federal grand jury on January 30, 2020, as part of an FBI corruption probe. Governor Ralph Torres is also the focus of the FBI corruption investigation that will go before a federal grand jury.
The order follows FBI raids last week on Torres’ home and offices, as well as IPI’s HQ on the island of Saipan, where the company is building the controversial Imperial Palace Casino. As a US territory, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI), which includes Saipan, is subject to US federal jurisdiction.
In August 2014, IPI won the bid for the single Saipan casino license after promising a $15 million annual fee to the cash-strapped island, and a handful of other fixed payments in return for a 25-year monopoly. According to Casino.org , the investigators are concerned with any potential cash transactions or donations [by IPI] to political campaigns run by Governor Torres on or after September 1 2013, as well as any records related to the land lease or purchase agreements involving IPI and the Torres family.
A current report revealed that the company owed the CNMI government $33 million in missed payments. The previous year, the company reported losses of $415 million for the 2018 fiscal year and admitted it had been forced to write off $733 million unrecoverable lousy debt.
A representative of the governor’s office reported that Governor Torres would continue serving the people of the CNMI as he had always done, with integrity and in pursuit of progress. Besides, he asked the public for their continued understanding and patience as the process proceeded towards the final clearing of the governor’s name.