Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC chief executive officer Donald Browne said yesterday that regulators and lawmakers should stop worrying about “minor issues” and instead focus on stomping out all the “unregulated and unlawful” gaming machines on Saipan that he estimates at over 700.
Browne said regulators and legislators should protect the “welfare of the good citizens of our senatorial district who are being deceived.”
Browne again raised the issue of alleged unlawful gaming machines on the island in response to Saipan Tribune’s request for comments about the Commonwealth Casino Commission official’s recent inquiry as to the whereabouts of IPI director Dong Ting Zheng.
At last week’s CCC monthly meeting, CCC acting executive director Andrew Yeom had asked Browne where Zheng is, to which Browne replied that he does not know where Zheng is right now.
Yeom said he asked about Zheng’s whereabouts because it was Zheng who certified all of IPI’s financial situation and also the one who appointed Browne as CEO. “Please help us see this guy. He is supposed to be, on paper, the sole director of the company,” Yeom said.
Browne said yesterday that his understanding is that Zheng is still in China as travel is restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that he is not in a position to question someone’s whereabouts.
About the alleged unlawful gaming machines on Saipan, Browne said that closing one’s eyes to unlawful activity does not exonerate those persons or bodies that are sworn to protect the gaming industry of Saipan.
“Casino gaming activities outside of the one licensed casino [IPI] are against the law,” he added.
At last week’s CCC board meeting, CCC board chair Edward C. Deleon Guerrero said he understands that Cui Li Jie, who is IPI’s mother company’s chair/executive director, is still on island. Deleon Guerrero asked Browne if he consulted Jie in reference to the direction that IPI is going with its financial obligations.
Browne affirmed that they consult with Jie on a regular basis. “Right now, we’re just focusing on trying to get money for payroll. The other things, of course, are equally important, but employees are paid first,” Browne said.
As for their other obligations, Browne said those involve a substantial amount of money so they’re looking at ways to “sort of break it into smaller pieces.”
Deleon Guerrero stressed that Browne and Jie should sit down and let her know that there are many proceedings that are happening right now, including the five complaints filed by the CCC executive director that are before the board.
“These are very serious accusations,” said the chairman, adding that it will be catastrophic if IPI owners don’t take them seriously.
Deleon Guerrero pointed out that Browne may have been appointed CEO but if he has no resources or money to back up what he’s expected to deliver, then he is set up to fail. “The problem is the wheels of justice are turning,” the chairman said.
Deleon Guerrero requested IPI’s executives to address the “serious business” with the shareholder and her son.
“If we don’t do enough at the rate we’re going, the CNMI may have to do something to save the [casino] industry but not necessarily IPI,” he added.