By Troy Torres
(Tumon, Guam) Rowina Torres, CNMI Gov. Ralph Torres's sister-in-law, has been living large and taking charge off the public dime.
Ms. Torres is the owner of Rufina Tropicals and Bibang Cafe. She is a self-described empowering force for women, providing employment opportunities for women in the Northern Mariana Islands.
A closer look at Ms. Torres's operations reveal that she used her brother-in-law's considerable influence to funnel federal Workforce Investment Act money to keep Rufina and Bibang staffed.
Between 25 - 30 WIA workers rotate through her companies. The workers are supposed to be trained, then assisted into gainful employment. Most are not; they are paid meager wages subsidized by the government.
Ms. Torres and her husband, along with Gov. Torres, first lady Diann Tudela Torres, the governor's other brothers and all of their wives except for one are named in a federal warrant for Imperial Pacific International (CNMI), LLC. They are the targets of a massive federal RICO investigation into racketeering, money laundering, fraud, and foreign interference in federal elections dealing with their links to the multi-billion dollar Saipan casino operations.
Her husband, Vince Torres, is the head of the Torres family and Torres Brothers, LLC. Their transactions with the casinos, along with receipts for luxury items of the Torres's, travel, and phone records were seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation a few weeks ago.
Vince and Rowina Torres also were served with a federal tax lien around the same time IPI (CNMI), LLC's Carmen Fernandez was served with a federal tax lien. Several sealed warrants followed the tax lien and finally led to the raids into the Torres's, and the casino.
Ms. Torres is a staple in CNMI high society, giving speeches about her role in empowering women and providing opportunities to residents. She never mentioned how much she was empowering herself and showering opportunities to her bank account with the people's money.