In their search warrants last Nov. 6, 2019, the Federal Bureau of Investigation seized records, documents, and other communications that date as far back as September 2013, when the CNMI government was still in the process of selecting who its sole casino licensee would be.
One of the warrants was executed on Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC’s accounting office along Puerto Rico on Nov. 7, 2019, authorizing FBI agents to seize all documents, records, and property that date as far back as September 2013.
Saipan Tribune archives state that the late governor Eloy S. Inos, then-Senate president Ralph DLG Torres, then-Senate vice president Sen. Victor B. Hocog (R-Rota), and Sen. Frank Cruz (R-Tinian) had announced on April 23, 2014, that their “fact-finding” trip to Hong Kong in late 2013 was paid for by “Esteem Capital.”
This caused many to question the passage of then-House Bill 18-179 at the Legislature, which later became Public Law 18-38. Several also pointed out that the Office of the Public Auditor had raised concerns that the legislation was specifically tailored to favor Best Sunshine International Ltd., later known as IPI.
Bloomberg, a national media outlet, later reported in a story dated March 28, 2017, that “Esteem Capital” has ties with IPI, citing a Chinese gambler who testified in Hong Kong courts.
The media outlet reported that a Hong Kong high court judgment released on March 16, 2017, had reported that Ji Xiabo and Cai Lingli were representatives of Esteem Capital Success Ltd. in the fall of 2013.
Ji Xiaobo is one of the owners of IPI while Cai Lingli was director of the company and chairman of IPI’s executive committee until late August 2018, according to Saipan Tribune archives.
It quoted Torres as saying in 2014, “I did receive a letter [in 2014 from Esteem]…thanking us for the opportunity to see at least the integrated resort, but they will not be able to participate in the bidding that just took place [in 2014]. So, the two companies that bid had no knowledge of, they are not the company that we met in Hong Kong.”
The FBI search warrants looked for bank account information, account statements, wire transfer requests, financial statements, credit card account information, invoices, cancelled checks, credit reports, loan records, debt obligations, fee schedules, correspondence, applications, telephone records, or certificates of incorporation dated on or after Sept. 1, 2013, relating to transfers of funds or items greater than $1,000 from IPI to Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, brothers Vincent, Victorino, and Joaquin Torres, Alfred Chi-Yam Yue, Ron Li Anderson, Legend Saipan (CNMI) LLC, Marianas Consultancy Services LLC, Torres Brothers LLC, or VR Company LLC; billing documents relating to the Torres brothers and companies; authorized withdrawals made by Ron Li Anderson from bank accounts which only he had signatory authority; all correspondence relating to tax matters between IPI, or any of its affiliates, and the CNMI government; all documents, records, and properties related to real estate transactions in the CNMI involving IPI or its affiliates; and many more, all dated on or before Sept. 1, 2013.
The search warrants included the Governor’s Office, the office of Alfred Yue of Marianas Consultancy Services LLC, a consultant for Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC; Legend Realty Saipan; the Torres Brothers’ law office, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ home, and vehicle.
The FBI, along with the CNMI Office of the Public Auditor, also visited the Commonwealth Casino Commission Tuesday. CCC executive director Edward Deleon Guerrero did not disclose the reason for their visit.
Saipan Tribune obtained last Thursday a copy of the U.S. District Court’s subpoena commanding the IPI records custodian to testify before a grand jury. The District Court published the order on Nov. 6, 2019.