CCC executive director files fifth complaint vs IPI

IPI, through a non-lawyer, files response to 4 complaints

Commonwealth Casino Commission executive director Andrew Yeom has filed a fifth complaint against Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC, again seeking the revocation of IPI’s exclusive casino license for alleged non-payment of this year’s $3 million regulatory fee.

This developed as the CCC board gave IPI a 15-day extension yesterday, or until Nov. 15, 2021, to respond to the five complaints that Yeom had already lodged against IPI—all of which seek the immediate revocation of IPI’s exclusive casino license, for alleged unwillingness to comply with the CCC’s final order in enforcement actions.

It was learned at the CCC board’s regular monthly meeting yesterday at Springs Plaza that IPI had submitted responses to four of the five complaints through a non-lawyer. The person who filed it was not mentioned at the meeting.

Yeom disclosed yesterday at the hearing that he filed the fifth complaint against IPI last Oct. 14 for IPI’s non-payment of the annual $3 million regulatory fee for 2021.

Yeom said IPI responses to the first four complaints have already been forwarded to the commission. However, he said, these responses were signed by a non-lawyer and perhaps they need clear legal guidance on the matter since each and all of the complaints are seeking revocations.

All board members—CCC chair Edward C. DeLeon Guerrero, vice chair Rafael S. Demapan, and commissioner Mariano Taitano—voted “yes” to commissioner Ramon M. Dela Cruz’s motion to give IPI more time or up to Nov. 15 to provide responses to Yeom’s five complaints to enable IPI to obtain a legal counsel to review those answers and sign off on them.

Before the voting, DeLeon Guerrero said it is his opinion that when a formal document is filed by the licensee, regulations require that a person be a licensed attorney or financial officer to appear before the commission. In this case, DeLeon Guerrero said, the four answers provided by the IPI was signed by a non-attorney and a non-financial officer.

“Technically, we could consider those, in my opinion, as not submitting a reply,” he said.

“One of the conditions of not responding on a timely basis is that you waive all your rights that are afforded to you because you did not answer on time.”

He said the laws, however, allow the commission to grant additional time, even if the respondent did not submit on a timely basis.

DeLeon Guerrero asked the commission to entertain this additional time for IPI to have an attorney review their answers to the complaints and make sure that a licensed attorney provides their response to the complaints.

The chairman pointed out that these five complaints are not regular complaints where the most they’re looking at is a financial penalty.

He said IPI should understand that these five complaints are seeking revocation of its casino license so it’s critical that an IPI attorney be given an opportunity to review the complaints and review the responses.

DeLeon Guerrero said they will then try to set the hearing dates, where both parties have to be prepared for that because the commission wants to move forward with the hearing.

Dela Cruz agreed that a 15-day extension is in order so IPI can properly prepare the notice of defense on the enforcement actions.

IPI vice president for public affairs Tao Xing said their new local counsel is former attorney general Joey P. San Nicolas.

Xing said that IPI’s responses were drafted by off-island attorneys as they did not have a local counsel at that time. He said the Nov. 15 deadline will be good so they will make sure that they do it properly.

Yeom, through assistant attorney general Keisha Blaise, filed before the CCC two complaints last Sept. 17 and two others last Sept. 28. The complaints arose from IPI’s alleged failure to pay the $3.1 million in annual casino regulatory fee on Oct. 1, 2020, its failure to pay the $15.5 million annual exclusive casino license fee on Aug. 12, 2020, and subsequently on Aug. 12, 2021, and non-compliant with the required working capital for three months’ payroll.

Last April 22, the CCC board ordered the indefinite suspension of IPI’s gaming license. The same order directed IPI to pay $6.6 million in total penalty within six months, and pay immediately $15.5 million and $3.1 million in annual casino exclusive license fee and annual casino regulatory fee, respectively. IPI is appealing the order before the Superior Court.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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