‘Construction items stolen from IPI everyday’

Construction progress at Imperial Pacific Resort project at moderate speed due to labor shortage

With construction progress at the Imperial Pacific Resort in Garapan now at a “moderate pace” due to a labor shortage, construction items from the project site and IPI warehouses are allegedly being stolen every single day.

Separately, speaking at the Commonwealth Casino Commission’s monthly meeting at its office at the Springs Plaza in Gualo Rai last week, commissioner Ramon M. Dela Cruz questioned why Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC is not collecting the huge amounts of collectibles from some of its customers.

“If IPI collects those money, we wouldn’t be in this situation right now,” Dela Cruz said.

IPI has so far failed to pay the $15.5 million casino license fee and $3 million regulatory fee this year.

Dela Cruz said this is the first time he has seen a casino that actually provides credit in large amounts of money and then doesn’t collect on those money owed. “It’s unheard of in the casino industry,” he said.

Dela Cruz said he is raising that issue every time they have a meeting because it’s very critical. He said if IPI does collect that money and they’re not reporting it, that’s another serious issue of tax evasion.

“I have personal experience in a casino that has receivables and they will collect [and] they’re getting paid in China and not remitting it to the CNMI,” Dela Cruz said.

At the same CCC meeting, IPI resident project director Jing Zhou said that COVID-19 continues to negatively impact the construction progress of the resort due to their inability to schedule manufacturing technicians and project engineers of records to Saipan.

At the same meeting, IPI CEO Donald Browne said everyday people are stealing items, construction equipment, and tools from the resort project site and from their many warehouses.

“We just don’t have the resources to be fully staffed 24 hours,” Browne said.

The CEO said the material that goes missing prohibits them from completing a certain aspect of the project. “That budget for one piece of material could literally put you back 15 days,” he added.

Zhou also disclosed to the board that, excluding 15 of the management staff, they have a total of 304 workers for the construction project.
Zhou said there are 234 H2-B workers and 70 from the local manpower, AM Group. The H2-B workers are composed of 87 Taiwanese, three Thais, 113 Mongolians, and 30 Turkish.

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 ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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