‘IPI breaking all kinds of laws is intolerable’
The Commonwealth Casino Commission says it has had enough of Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC’s continuous failure to comply with CNMI laws.
According to CCC executive director Andrew Yeom, IPI’s noncompliance has become intolerable and, although the commission wants it to become legally compliant, the casino operator has broken so many laws that the CCC has no choice but to move for revocation.
“Unfortunately [IPI’s] breaking all kinds of laws, whether it be labor laws, immigration laws, even taxes, they’re delinquent. These are very critical issues that they are provoking on our island. It’s intolerable. That why we’ve reached this point,” he said.
Yeom said he understands that IPI has also suffered from the pandemic, but it’s no excuse to break laws.
“I’m hoping for them to come into compliance, even right now. If they could just come into compliance and pay all their vendors, pay their taxes and fees, and just abide by the law—that’s all we’re asking. I guess sometimes it’s difficult to do. I understand, we’re in a pandemic, it has made it very difficult for everyone. But that’s not enough of an excuse to break laws and that’s exactly what they’re doing and we’ve had enough of it already,” Yeom said.
When asked if CCC would be open to a payment plan on IPI’s part so they could get back into compliance, Yeom could not give a definitive “yes” or “no” answer.
“I don’t want to say yes or no. Aside from [fees], we’re talking about a building that is half-finished. To me, that’s the first and foremost. [IPI] started out a big project promising an over $2-billion investment. We’re halfway there, perhaps. Now, we have this sort of an eyesore that’s sitting in the heart of Garapan. That’s what I’m most interested in finding out, how can we finish that project. Of course, the fees that are due are statutorily required. These are not just in the license agreement, but these are required by law. There’s not much flexibility in terms of me giving any forgiveness or whatnot. To establish a payment plan. I really do not want to go there. The law is clear that you have to pay and, at the end of the day that’s basically what I’m here to regulate and enforce,” he said.
Yeom said, however, that CCC might be open to a possible settlement negotiation if IPI can provide tangible proof to warrant one.
“If they can come into compliance, that’s exactly what we want them to do. It’s not like we want to kick them out. We all want [the hotel casino] to be finished. For them to come away with some sort of a settlement negotiation, the hotel casino is going to be a big part of it. IPI can no longer come away with words. They have to show me something in definitive terms that are visible and viable. Something like a completion bond, things of that nature. It has to make sense, it has to be viable. No more words; it’s time for action,” he said.
IPI is set to appear before the CCC board on May 24, to discuss the five enforcement actions that Yeom had filed in support of revoking IPI’s exclusive casino license.