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IPI: Bloomberg raid story is false

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Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC claims a magazine story about a supposed federal raid at one of its offices is false and the company plans to counter with legal action at once.

In response to Bloomberg Businessweek’s March 14, 2018, story about U.S. federal agents and the Federal Bureau of Investigation raiding a “Saipan office of Imperial Pacific International Holdings Ltd. last week,” the IPI board, led by executive director Cai Lingli, said in a statement that after making all “reasonable inquiries,” they have no knowledge of such a raid happening.

“…The [board] hereby clarifies and confirms that there was no raid by U.S. agents on any of its offices, its casino, or buildings as erroneously reported by Bloomberg. Bloomberg has once again misrepresented facts about the [g]roup and the [b]oard shall take legal actions immediately,” said a March 15, 2018 announcement by the IPI board.

The statement was also sent to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

The statement reiterated that the Hong Kong-based company would be taking legal actions against Bloomberg. The company in late March 2018 issued a statement announcing they would be suing the magazine after they published a Feb. 15, 2018 story titled, “A Chinese Casino Has Conquered a Piece of America,” which alleged impropriety within the business operations as well as engaging in improper relationships with Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and several of his family members, among many other allegations.

Bloomberg had reported that besides seizing documents from the IPI office, the FBI also issued them a statement, along the lines of prioritizing public corruption, which the alleged FBI statement emphasized was at the top of their criminal investigative priority.

“Elected or appointed officials are entrusted and expected to protect the interests of the people with integrity. When that trust is betrayed, the security and stability of our government is put at risk,” reported Bloomberg on the reported FBI statement.

In an interview with Commonwealth Casino Commission executive director Edward Deleon Guerrero, he said that IPI management on Saipan, including their legal counsel, denied reports of a raid done by federal agents.

“That article, according to IPI’s legal team, is false,” he said.

He added that Bloomberg’s claim that the CNMI government procures legal advice from the Torres Brothers law firm, which is managed and owned by the governor’s brothers, is also false.

“The [law firm] never provided legal [services] to the CNMI government. …I don’t know why they would say things like that, but…[Bloomberg] should make sure that whatever they are printing is accurate,” he said.

Deleon Guerrero said that, based on conversations with the IPI legal counsel, IPI was not aware of any raids or confiscation of documents.

“When you do secure a search warrant, that becomes a public issue,” he added.

FBI mum on Bloomberg article

The FBI declined to confirm the Bloomberg story that its agents raided a Saipan office of Imperial Pacific last week.

“We cannot comment, or confirm the existence of investigations, or any specifics thereof,” said FBI Honolulu Field Office spokesperson Michele Ernst in an email in response to Saipan Tribune’s inquiry.

Ernst reiterated the FBI’s previous official comment that, as a matter of legal policy, the FBI does not comment on criminal investigations, to include confirming or denying cases, their status as ongoing or not.

However, Ernst said, public corruption is the FBI’s top criminal investigative priority and encouraged anyone with information about a potential violation of federal law to contact the FBI.

Last year, federal agents raided an office of Imperial Pacific’s subcontractor and subsequently arrested four persons on charges of harboring illegal aliens in connection with the construction of Imperial Pacific’s casino and resort in Garapan, the Imperial Pacific Resort. (With Ferdie de la Torre)

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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