FBI Corruption Probe Links Saipan Governor, Casino Operator | Anti Corruption Digest

Sunday 1st December 2019

-- Anti-Corruption News Story Curated by Anti-Corruption Digest International Risk & Compliance News

FBI raids on the island of Saipan of the offices of Ralph Torres (above), governor of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Imperial Pacific International Holdings appear to be linked to possible bribery, money laundering and improper political donations, according to a search warrant seen by Asia Sentinel.

The Hong Kong-listed Imperial Pacific has the sole license to operate the only full-fledged casino in Saipan, which is part of the Northern Mariana Islands. The FBI investigation raises a question mark over the future of the island as a gambling paradise for Chinese high rollers who account for most of the gaming revenue in the US territory.

Imperial Pacific's advisory committee has been chock-full of prominent US figures, including former FBI director Louis Freeh, former New York governor David Paterson, and Edward Rendell, a former governor of Pennsylvania and former chairman of the US Democratic National Committee. The trio were appointed on April 20, 2016.

Former US Central Intelligence Agency Director Robert James Woolsey serves as a non-executive member of the board of directors. A former US judge, Eugene Sullivan, was also a non-executive director, leaving in June 2017.

The warrant authorized the search and seizure of all documents, records and property related to any transfer of funds or items worth more than US$1,000 each to governor Torres, his brothers, Torres Brothers (a law firm co-owned by governor Torres) and other companies and individuals, on or after September 1, 2013.

Suspicion of bribery is indicated in the warrant's authorization of search and seizure of luxury items as well as records of travel and entertainment purchased by Imperial Pacific for the benefit of governor Torres and his relatives. Lending a political dimension, the warrant also targets donations to political campaigns of governor Torres and other politicians in the US territory on or after September 1, 2013.

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