CNMI governor, his brothers, and casino under investigation

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CNMI Gov. Ralph Torres is accused of misusing public funds, one of a number of allegations prompting the recent FBI raids of the governor's office, residence, and car, the minority bloc said.
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Documents filed in the CNMI’s District Court have revealed who the FBI was looking for and what they were investigating when they raided government and casino offices last week in Saipan.

The revelations were reported in Thursday’s Marianas Variety. They surfaced in an unsealed copy of the FBI’s search warrant and a grand jury summons filed in a separate personal injury lawsuit against the Imperial Pacific casino.

According to an article in today’s Marianas Variety, the 7-page search and seizure warrant executed by the FBI in Saipan last week sought “all documents, records, and property … print and digital documents that may constitute evidence of various federal laws, including wire fraud …. money laundering and violations of the law against donations by foreign nationals.”

The warrant names Gov. Ralph Torres, his brothers Vincent Torres, Victorino Torres and Joaquin Torres, along with Alfred Chi-Yam Yue of Marianas Consultancy and Ron Li Anderson of Legend Realty.

The search warrant was signed by CNMI District Court chief judge Ramona Manglona on Nov. 6 and the FBI executed the search warrants the following day.

The Marianas Variety also obtained a copy of a grand jury subpoena received by an Imperial Pacific records custodian who was ordered to provide, among many other things:

“Any and all emails, text messages, letters, notices, or other forms of written communications between Imperial Pacific International … and CNMI Governor Torres.”

Specifically, the warrant sought documents pertaining to cash transactions or donations to the Friends of Ralph organization or to any other political campaigns.

The records custodian has been summoned to testify before a grand jury on Jan. 1 next year.

In response to the Marianas Variety’s story, the CNMI governor’s office issued a statement today saying: “This process has been emotionally trying for Governor Torres and his family, and in collaborating with this process and the investigation, time will show that these concerns of the federal government are misplaced, at the very least.

Governor Torres will continue to serve the people of the CNMI as he has always done, with integrity and in pursuit of progress for our people. He asks for your continued understanding and patience as this process proceeds toward the eventual clearing of his name.”

The search warrant and related grand jury summons have now been sealed.

No charges have been filed against anyone, yet.

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