Search warrant details wire fraud, money laundering investigation in CNMI

CASINO PROJECT: The Imperial Pacific International's casino project in Saipan is shown. The casino developer's offices and Northern Marianas Gov. Ralph Torres' office were searched by FBI agents last week. Dontana Keraskes/The Guam Daily Post

SAIPAN – Eighty of the construction workers at Imperial Pacific International were scheduled to leave starting Monday after having agreed to resign last week. Many of the workers were seen lining up at a Saipan bank cashing their paychecks before departure.

More than 150 construction workers from Taiwan and 12 from Thailand were asked to resign prior to the January 2020 expiration of their H-2B temporary worker visas, two of the workers said.

Ching Tu Cheng, 25, a carpenter from Taiwan, said he knew they were being asked to resign because they are “more expensive” than workers from Mongolia.

“I heard them saying, ‘Taiwan guys more expensive.’ They asked me to resign, I’m okay. I’d rather go back to Taiwan and find work there,” he added

He said IPI was paying him $22 per hour. He was told that workers from Mongolia will get paid $11 per hour.

Cheng said 200 were recruited from Taiwan about four months ago to work on the Saipan casino construction project. Last week, he said, he and 156 others were asked to resign.

He and 79 others have signed the resignation letter and agreed to leave the island. 

Some of the workers are still waiting for their plane tickets.

Sunai Surasong, 53, a supervisor and one of the 12 Thai workers asked to resign, said he is leaving on Nov. 25. 

The casino developer's offices were raided last week along with the office and house on Saipan of Northern Marianas Gov. Ralph Torres. FBI agents conducted the raid but federal authorities have been quiet about the reason for the raids. The search warrants haven't been made public.