CCC subpoenaed for IPI docs

CCC chairman: $15.5M casino license fee due Aug. 12 is non-negotiable

The Commonwealth Casino Commission has received a subpoena from the U.S. District Court for the NMI at the request of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to get voluminous records of Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC to CCC.

At CCC’s monthly board meeting yesterday, CCC acting executive director Charlie O. Atalig disclosed that CCC’s legal counsel received the subpoena last June 19. However, Atalig said, their legal counsel was able to narrow the scope of the information being sought. He said the commission was able to gather and submit the documents two weeks ago and that CCC received confirmation last week that the EEOC had been able to access these documents.

When asked for comments, IPI general counsel Michael W. Dotts said the subpoena is related to the case filed by the EEOC against IPI.

Dotts said that Kelley Butcher is still the lawyer for IPI in that case, but is trying to withdraw. Dotts said IPI has not yet named a replacement for Butcher in that case.

The EEOC is suing IPI for allegedly subjecting some female VIP service hosts to unwelcome physical and verbal sexual harassment by IPI casino’s male patrons—known as high rollers.

IPI has denied the allegation.

At yesterday’s CCC board meeting, CCC board chair Edward Deleon Guerrero reminded IPI’s new chief executive officer Donald Browne that Aug. 12—which is 13 days from yesterday—is the deadline for IPI to pay $15.5 million as part of an annual casino license fee.

“I’m advising you—you have 13 days to notify the corporation that $15.5 million is due on or before Aug. 12. Please don’t come to us on Aug. 11, saying that it’s been wired on Aug 11,” the chairman said.

Deleon Guerrero said the commission had penalized IPI before at $25,000 a day for late payment. The chairman said that’s $25,000 a day is enough to pay the staff’s salary or other expenses.

“Please do whatever you can. This is non-negotiable. This is the law,” Deleon Guerrero said.

Browne said it’s his 13th day on the job as CEO and that the license fee has been one of the top issues they discussed every day. Browne assured that they are in constant communication with corporate officials.

“We have no bad intentions. We have some funding that would satisfy that…,” he said.

Browne said there are multiple people working on that issue “every single hour, every single day” since he was named CEO.

Atalig also disclosed that the commission received a letter from Roberto Fracassini, the honorary consul of Italy for Guam and the CNMI, last July 22 regarding 12 Italian citizens who have been working as construction workers for IPI and have complained about late wages. He said the commission opened up an investigation into the complaint and their agents interviewed both parties and that both parties were able to come to a resolution and the commission will monitor the situation.

Atalig said these workers had reached out to Lorenzo Ortega, the Italian consul general in San Francisco.

Atalig said it’s really about the payroll issue that was brought up by the Italian consul of Guam and the CNMI. He said it is his understanding that the Italian construction laborers have been repatriated and that eight are scheduled to be repatriated next weekend.

IPI general counsel Michael Dotts said he does not know what happened with the Italians. All he knows is that because of COVID-19, there were issues with repatriating employees once their work visas had expired.

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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