FBI probe: CNMI governor defends himself against ‘false’ accusations

3:20 pm on 28 January 2020

The Northern Marianas governor has broken his silence on an FBI probe that has included searches of his home and office.

CNMI Governor Ralp DLG Torres.

CNMI Governor Ralp DLG Torres. Photo: Office of the Governor of CNMI

Ralph Torres has branded press reports on the matter "irresponsible".

He said a Guam-based social media news outlet and his political opponents had fueled wild speculation about the FBI investigation and had also made false attacks against him, his family, and his administration.

The embattled governor vehemently denies he has been "paid off" by Imperial Pacific International in exchange for favours to the lone Saipan casino licensee.

Mr Torres also denied accusations his brothers received payoffs or were awarded contracts through their law firm in exchange for favours to the company.

The governor said claims the FBI seized cash from his house and that he purchased groceries, equipment, and brought lavish dinners using government money were also false.

Mr Torres said he bought groceries for traditional canoe voyagers and equipment was acquired for an underfunded drug rehabilitation programme.

In the case of a reported lavish dinner, Mr Torres said he paid for it as a thank you for a Guam-based non-profit that brought $US100,000 worth of disaster supplies to the CNMI following Super Typhoon Yutu.

"To be absolutely clear, I have not, nor has any member of my family, ever used public funds to acquire any item or service for personal use. Not once," Mr Torres said.

The US District Court for the CNMI has summoned Imperial Pacific to testify before a grand jury at the end of January.

The court is deciding whether any improper financial transactions were conducted between the casino resort operator and the governor.

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