‘IPI as casino licensee didn’t invest in American Sinopan’

As exclusive Saipan casino licensee, Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC didn’t invest a single penny on American Sinopan LLC, which is planning to build an integrated resort in Tanapag.

That’s according to Commonwealth Casino Commission executive director Edward Deleon Guerrero yesterday. Saipan Tribune sought to independently verify this with IPI’s legal team but there was no response as of press time last night.

In an interview last Tuesday, Deleon Guerrero said that IPI has not asked the commission to count the rooms that will be built by American Sinopan toward the 2,000-hotel rooms that IPI is required to build by the casino law.

“There seems to be a lot of rumors left and right,” Deleon Guerrero said.

He said that somebody or some individuals from IPI may have invested in American Sinopan, but not the casino licensee itself, IPI.

He said he raised the question during the commission’s recent meeting, if IPI has invested with American Sinopan, because the presentation about its planned Tanapag resort was held at the lobby of the Imperial Palace in Garapan.

This appears to contradict the statement of IPI chair and chief executive officer Mark A. Brown, who told Saipan Tribune during the groundbreaking on American Sinopan’s resort last July 20 that IPI invested in American Sinopan because IPI has been waiting too long for the Marpi land, and they have been finding it difficult to secure the property.

It was earlier reported that IPI acquired a 50% stake in American Sinopan.

Deleon Guerrero said that, from what he has gathered, he has been told that IPI has not invested a single penny in the Tanapag project, according to IPI’s chief financial officer.

At the same time, at the last CCC meeting, Deleon Guerrero sasked IPI’s human resources representatives if IPI employees are involved with the American Sinopan’s project and that they replied “no.”

He got the same response when he asked IPI’s construction manager Eric Poon if IPI staff or any employees are working on the Tanapag project.

IPI’s chief financial officer also said, “No,” when he asked if IPI is involved with the Tanapag project, that they have not invested a single penny in that project.

Deleon Guerrero said he even asked the Commonwealth Lottery Commission for clarification that IPI acquired a stake in American Sinopan and was told “no.”

What may have happened is that somebody from IPI may have invested in the project but not IPI itself, he said.

He said IPI has not invested a single penny in the Tanapag project based on the response of IPI’s chief financial officer. “Construction people at IPI have no participation whatsoever,” he added.

Deleon Guerrero said the Commonwealth Lottery Commission stated that they have not been asked to count any of the rooms to be built in Tanapag toward the 2,000-hotel rooms required of IPI.

“It’s all rumors. I don’t know who started it but it seems to be like wildfire,” he said.

Deleon Guerrero said Phase 1 of the casino agreement has specific requirements and that some of those requirements are 4- to 5-star quality hotel guest rooms.

He said that, although he is not privy to the Tanapag project, his understanding is that it will be condominiums, which is not consistent with Public Law18-56 and the subsequent amendment, Public Law 19-24.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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