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Hong Kong-based casino operator Imperial Pacific International tumbled on Friday morning amid media reports the FBI had visited an office used by the company on the US island of Saipan.

Imperial Pacific International was granted 40-year exclusive rights to open casinos in Saipan in 2014 and was scheduled to open the casino of its new Imperial Pacific Resort today. The Chinese company had invested $343m in the resort up to December, its annual report said.

Local media reported the FBI had searched the floor of a building leased by the company’s construction department yesterday. One media outlet reported the investigation was linked to a construction worker’s accidental death.

The company denied the reports in a statement published on the Hong Kong stock exchange on Friday afternoon. It said: “neither the Group nor any of its staff has received any investigation notice from any of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation or government departments”.

Shares in the Hong Kong-listed company fell as much as 16.7 per cent during morning trading. The company’s stock went into the lunch break trading down 9.7 per cent at HK$0.13 ($0.02) a share. The city’s benchmark Hang Seng index is down 0.5 per cent.

The company opened a temporary casino called Best Sunshine Live in Saipan in 2015, which reported annual gross revenue of HK$7.5bn from it gaming and resorts business for 2016 with VIP games rolling of $32.3bn.

Imperial Pacific chairman, Mark Brown, was previously chief executive and president of Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts.

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