Governor: NMI lobbyist didn’t go to Treasury

GOVERNOR Ralph Torres said he did not deny that his administration has hired a lobbyist to advocate for CNMI concerns in the nation’s capital, but he added that he was not aware that a lobbyist saw officials of the U.S. Treasury regarding a money-laundering case.

In an interview on Friday, Torres noted that when he was asked about it during the recent U.S. Senate committee hearing, “I said I was not aware that our lobbyist had gone to the Treasury, and it was true. I am not denying that we have a lobbyist, but I didn’t know whether our lobbyist went to the Treasury, that’s why my response was ‘I am not aware.’ However, we made it clear with [U.S.] Sen. [Maria] Cantwell that same day. We found out that day also that our lobbyist Jason Osborne did not go to the U.S. Treasury.”

In Jan. 2018, Tim Chen, principal owner of Tinian Entertainment Corp., said he was interested in taking over the now defunct Tinian Dynasty hotel-casino, but added the $75 million fine imposed by the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network or FinCen was a major concern.

The fine was imposed because Dynasty’s former owner, HKE, failed to develop and implement an anti-money-laundering program.

Chen told Variety that he had “hired a lobbyist in Washington, D.C. to help me resolve this FinCen issue.”

“That’s a private entity so he can do whatever he wants to do,” the governor said on Friday. “I am not sure what was requested or what the lobbying was all about — it’s a private business so the government has nothing to do with that.”

Source: Marianas Variety :

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