CNMI governor speaks out on raid, leaders concerned of relationship with casino
A closer look now at court documents filed by Imperial Pacific International CNMI requesting for a stay in their current lawsuit pending a criminal case from current FBI raids.
These court documents bring light to the many questions the Saipan community has been asking for years now.
"I have a duty to do and continue with what I am voted for and I just respect the process and I cannot wait for the time to come for the truth to come out," CNMI Gov. Ralph Torres said.
Following last week's FBI searches on his office, residence, vehicle and his brother's law firm, the CNMI governor responded to KSPN2 News.
As does the island community and members of the legislature.
CNMI house of representative minority member Tina Sablan tells KUAM that people have been asking questions since the enactment of the Saipan casino law and since the Chinese company Imperial Pacific International's Arrival.
"There has been all kinds of rumors, allegations for years now and suspicion that there would possibly be some federal interest in investigation some of the allegations that people here in this community have been talking about for a long time," she said.
Sablan has been a voice in the community to speak out about the relationship between the local government and the casino.
"From the very beginning we have been concerned with violations of labor laws, violations of immigration law there have been concerns about possible money laundering and more recently also concerns of breaches of the casino license agreement and Imperial Pacific's failures to pay taxes," she said.
Alleged violations have been surfaced through a motion to stay in the CNMI District Court lawsuit case involving the casino filed by Imperial Pacific International CNMI general counsel Phil Tydingco.
The complaint from back in December 2018 by seven men from China alleges human labor trafficking incidents that occurred in February and March of 2017 at the casino construction site. These men and others went so far as holding multiple protests on the island, and during the time former CNMI department of labor secretary Edith Deleon Guerrero made every effort to help the men.
In an interview, Deleon Guerrero told reporters that there were 92 construction workers.
"The workers were not even paid yet, yet I was called at 4 p.m. in the afternoon on May 8 to be given the instructions from Torres that he wants those workers on the airplane at 1:30 in the morning on May 9th," she said.
Deleon Guerrero did not comply and the administration fired her on May 19th 2017.
"The public needs to know that there are wolves in sheepskin they are dishonest, they cannot be trusted," Deleon Guerrero said.
According to NMI district court filings, Imperial Pacific International CNMI is a defendant in at least 12 cases.
The defendant's motion to stay in this case is scheduled for January. Tydingco indicated in the court documents that the current investigation arises out of the Casino Project "which is the same occurrence upon which this civil action is based".
Included in these court documents, were the search and seizure warrants executed, a Grand Jury Subpoena "which seeks all communications between IPI and the Office of the Governor", and the receipt of property.
Gov. Torres says he doesn't know the reason for the raids and was told by the feds that it's still under investigation.
This week the feds also visited the casino regulatory board's office of the Commonwealth Casino Commission or CCC. The CCC holds monthly board meetings with Imperial Pacific International CNMI officials for an update on the construction project site and a report from their finance department. The CCC commissioners are paid by Imperial Pacific International in part of the Casino License Agreement.
While the investigation is ongoing, Sablan and other members of the legislature have started an internal inquiry on Gov. Torres and the allegations.
"The people of the commonwealth are entitled to the truth and there are so many unanswered questions now and I think the people that we represent are entitled to a better government and entitled to transparency," Sablan said.
KUAM has repeatedly reached out to Imperial Pacific International CNMI's offices requesting an interview and has yet to receive a response.