By Jacob Nakamura and Nancy I. Maanao
(Susupe, Saipan) The Saipan casino's financial transactions with some of the most powerful people in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands have been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury, bringing the gripping federal investigation into public corruption to a new phase.
One of the subjects of the subpoena has direct ties to the Calvo family of Guam.
The subpoena is addressed to the Records Custodian of Imperial Pacific International (CNMI), LLC in Marina Heights, Puerto Rico, Saipan. The office was raided earlier this month by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Warrants and property receipts revealed that the targets of the investigation included CNMI Gov. Ralph Torres, his wife, his brothers, and all but one of their wives.
The warrant also revealed that the investigation centers around federal violations of racketeering laws and the law prohibiting foreign interference in United States elections.
The subpoena demands "Any and all documents or records in Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC's main data center related to financial transactions with, to, or by" 30 of the most prominent citizens and companies in the CNMI, including a former CNMI Lieutenant Governor Diego Benavente, and former Guam senator Carmen Fernandez.
Businessmen Alfred Chi-Yam Yue and Ron Li Anderson, close friends of Mr. Torres and subjects of federal investigations into President Trump's campaign finances related to illegal Chinese interference in the U.S. presidential elections, are at the top of the list.
Attorney Viola Alepuyo, whom the late Gov. Eloy Inos once appointed as Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army, is third on the list. Ms. Alepuyo is alleged to have been paid $25,000 a month by IPI to run Mr. Torres's re-election campaign. She also is the wife of CNMI Superior Court associate Judge Joseph James Norita Camacho.
Mr. Yue's embattled consulting company, Marianas Consultancy Services, LLC, also is on the list, as is Mr. Anderson's controversial realty company, Legend Realty (CNMI) LLC. Legend is 51 percent owned by a foreign entity.
Charles V. Cepeda and his company, CVC Consulting Services also is named in the subpoena. Mr. Cepeda runs MidPac Saipan, a company owned by the family of former Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo, who had a close relationship with Mr. Torres while in office. Both Mr. Calvo and Mr. Torres co-chaired a massive Asian fundraising effort for Mr. Trump's re-election campaign. The activities of that group have been under an internationally-watched FBI investigation into major crimes involving Chinese interference in United States elections.
Blue Continent Communications, Inc., which has a Federal Communications License to operate KKMP station, lists Maryland company Mullaney Engineering, Inc., Gary Sword, and Rosemund B. Santos on its FCC license application.
Former Marianas Visitors Authority executive Christopher Concepcion and his company, CA Professional Services is on the list, as well as Northern Marianas College Dean of Administration and Resource Development David J. Attao. Mr. Attao owns Dattao Consulting Services, which also is named in the subpoena.
Mr. Attao's former colleague and boss, IPI listed owner Carmen Fernandez, was the NMC president and prior to that was a member of the Guam Legislature. She is named in the subpoena.
Former Workforce Investment Agency executive director Felix Nogis, who was arrested by the FBI in 2003 before former Gov. Benigno Fitial appointed him to the Department of Public Lands in 2010, is on the list, along with his embattled company, FelNo Consulting Services.
A Francisco C. Sablan is listed; it is unclear whether this is the husband of former lieutenant governor candidate Dr. Rita Sablan. Ms. Sablan ran with former Gov. Juan Babauta against the current administration.
Marianas Health, LLC's finance director Jack Taitague also is named.
San Diego-based PR firm Pacific Edge Consulting is on the subpoena.
Former Commonwealth Zoning Board vice chairman Jose T. Limes is on the list, as well as several others. View the list below: