For failing to pay $3.1M regulatory fee
Acting executive director Andrew Yeom of the Commonwealth Casino Commission has filed another complaint against Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC before the CCC, this time over IPI’s failure to pay the $3.1 million annual regulatory fee that was due last Oct. 1.
Yeom, through assistant attorney general Michael L. Ernest, filed two claims against IPI for violation of the Commonwealth Code and CCC regulation, a claim for breach of contract, and a claim for declaratory order.
IPI general counsel Michael Dotts said yesterday that he will submit IPI’s answer to CCC’s complaint tomorrow, Friday.
Yeom asked the CCC to declare that IPI committed the violations and did not immediately self-report to CCC the facts that gave rise to the violations prior to being contacted by a CCC enforcement officer.
He asked the CCC to declare that the violations committed by IPI in the first three claims are major violations pursuant to CCC regulation, and for CCC to suspend IPI’s license to conduct gaming operations on Saipan until such time that the regulatory fee is fully paid.
He also asked CCC to order IPI to pay a $50,000 fine per violation per day that the regulatory fee went unpaid for the major violations in the three claims.
According to Ernest in Yeom’s complaint, IPI is required by Commonwealth law, the casino license agreement, and the regulations promulgated by CCC to pay a regulatory fee of $3.1 million each year. Per Commonwealth law, that regulatory fee is due on or before Oct. 1 of every year.
Ernest said that IPI has paid this fee each year that it has been required prior to 2020. Per Commonwealth law, the fee for the year beginning Oct. 1, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2021, was due on or before Oct. 1, which IPI failed to do in whole on or before the deadline, Ernest said.
He said that IPI has a statutory and contractual obligations to pay the regulatory fee on the due date.
In August 2019, then-CCC executive director Edward Deleon Guerrero filed a complaint against IPI for the untimely payment of the casino license fee. Ernest said the parties entered into a stipulated resolution of that enforcement action. In that stipulated resolution, Ernest said, IPI agreed that it would “ensure that all required fee payments are timely made as required by applicable Commonwealth law, regulation, or otherwise.”
He said IPI has materially breached the terms of the stipulated agreement and the casino license agreement by failing to make the required payment in full of the casino regulatory fee.
He said the failure to timely pay the amount required by the Commonwealth Code for more than 12 hours is a major violation of the commission’s regulations and should be penalized as a major violation.
“Each day the fee went unpaid is a separate violation,” Ernest said.
Last August, Yeom also filed a complaint against IPI before the CCC over its failure to pay the $15.5 million casino license fee by the deadline last Aug. 12. Yeom, through Ernest, filed the same four claims against IPI.
Last June, then CCC executive director Charlie Atalig, through Ernest, filed a complaint before CCC against IPI for allegedly failing to contribute $40 million in community benefit fund money in 2018 and 2019, as required by the casino license agreement.