Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino and the Department of Finance wrapped up their negotiations to settle Dynasty's over $30 million tax debt at a time when Dynasty is also negotiating with Taiwan-based Howarm Construction Co. Ltd., which wants to buy the only operating hotel-casino in the CNMI, officials said yesterday.
Tinian Dynasty owner Hong Kong Entertainment (Overseas) Investments Ltd. has been negotiating for quite some time now with Howarm, a Taiwan-based company engaged in construction, leasing and distribution of residential and commercial buildings.
Tinian Mayor Ramon Dela Cruz and other CNMI officials confirmed negotiations between Dynasty and Howarm but were quick to point out that no final decision has been made.
“We welcome new investors to Tinian that have bigger capital, will bring cash infusion, and attract high rollers. Howarm is a major company in Taiwan and they have a good reputation,” he said.
Dela Cruz said it has always been his administration's request that any takeover of the hotel-casino would include retaining the current local and foreign workers that are already with Dynasty and that their back wages are paid.
He said Tinian is thankful for Dynasty's commitment to hire locally, citing ongoing training for certain positions at the casino.
“As to the tax [debt] settlement, I believe Dynasty has been doing its best to be more attractive to potential investors and that includes having clean [financial] books. Dynasty has been negotiating with the CNMI government on their tax obligations for quite sometime now,” Dela Cruz said.
The Tinian mayor said the amount negotiated will be paid to the central government and not the Tinian municipal government. He said Dynasty does not currently owe the municipal government.
Senate Vice President Jude Hofschneider (R-Tinian) said he's also been aware of the tax debt settlement deal between Dynasty and Finance, but he's not aware of the amount being negotiated.
According to Saipan Tribune's government sources, Dynasty and Finance agreed that Dynasty will be paying the government $6.1 million in back taxes, down from the original $30 million-plus, including interests.
The same sources said yesterday that assistant attorney general Jim Stump negotiated on behalf of Finance.
While Stump could not be reached for comment, press secretary Angel Demapan said yesterday that the Fitial administration is continuing emphasis on tax collection but Commonwealth law strictly prohibits disclosure of individual tax information.
“Under the Fitial/Inos administration, the Commonwealth has significantly increased tax enforcement. This invigorated tax enforcement is ongoing and to date has brought in over $50 million of tax revenues that were due but uncollected. Because of current financial constraints of the government, additional emphasis has been placed on tax and revenue collection and, on a weekly basis, additional tax enforcement proceedings are initiated,” Demapan said.
Tinian Dynasty is just one of dozens of businesses and individual taxpayers that owe the CNM government significant tax obligations. One other CNMI businessman with over $5 million in back taxes and one with over $1 million in back taxes are also negotiating with Finance, sources said.