To date, Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC’s financier, IH Group, has invested or transferred $245,000 to IPI, according to Hongtao Su, a representative of IPI’s Hong Kong-based parent company, during yesterday’s meeting of the Commonwealth Casino Commission. IPI earlier reported that it anticipates receiving $150 million from IH Group.
IPI adviser Tao Xing also stated yesterday that IPI has invested more than $1 billion in the CNMI and has contributed over $300 million to government’s finances so far.
Su, a Chinese national, talked about IH Group—with Xing acting as his translator—during the public comment portion of the CCC’s monthly meeting at the CCC conference room at Springs Plaza in Gualo Rai.
Su was prompted to talk about IH Group’s investment after a former IPI employee, Vicente Aldan, told the CCC board that, based on his investigation, IH Group has no money and is a scam.
Su showed to the CCC board a copy of a letter coming from IPI Holdings executive director Chen Feng, authorizing him to represent IPI.
He said IH Group has been late on the payments defined by their agreement.
Su said IPI is trying to be as flexible as much as possible and is giving IH Group more time. However, Su said, he is ready to give the IH Group the final notice and terminate their agreement.
Su said he is an investor who bought a lot of IPI shares and that no one from IPI’s investment committee could attend the CCC meeting so he is available to answer some questions and make a few remarks.
Aldan, who is running for a House of Representatives seat representing Precinct 1 as an independent candidate, earlier told the board that did some investigative background checking on IH Group that is claiming to be funding $150 million to bail out IPI. He said he called IH Group’s Rota office’s phone number, but the number doesn’t work. “I don’t know where IH Group is because people that I know on Rota don’t know where the IH Group is,” Aldan said.
He said he had people in South Korea go over to the IH Group’s head office and found out that the address is there, but there’s no office there that represents the company. “I called the number, nobody answers,” Aldan said.
Aldan said the IH Group Korea’s website claims that they have an IH waterpark on Rota that they started building in June 2019 and completed in September 2019. “Who’s here has been to Rota who has seen a waterpark that was developed by IH Group? I know I haven’t seen one,” he said.
He said the website also claimed that they built IH Rota Casino Hotel, a 30-hotel room that started construction in June 2019 and completed in September 2019. “I didn’t know Rota has a casino that ha 30 hotel rooms,” Aldan said.
He said IH Group also cited that there’s a Dream Hotel and Shopping Mall on Rota, in which construction started February 2020 and completed 2022. “I didn’t realize that Rota has a shopping mall either,” Aldan said.
He said IH Group claimed that they built or renovated the Rota International Airport that has Duty Free Shoppers inside it.
Aldan said that, by just doing this little research, it appears this IH Group is exactly like IPI—it’s a scam and they don’t have money.
He said he is not sure what is going to happen to IPI’s case against CCC before the U.S. District Court for the NMI. “But what I do know is that this IH Group is a scam for whoever’s running it, their connection on Rota and IPI. Maybe all my information is wrong, maybe it’s right. I don’t know. But from what I gathered, I can guarantee you that it is right,” Aldan said.
Aldan said IPI is just biding its time as there is no way that its hotel in Garapan will be open and operational this November. He said it will take millions of millions of dollars that IPI does not have to fix the problems in that hotel building.
Aldan said nobody is willing to do any kind of work for IPI because IPI already has a reputation for being untrustworthy. He recommends that CCC conduct a thorough background investigation as to whoever is going to invest in IPI. “And make it public so we don’t have another fiasco like IPI,” Aldan said.
Su said that Aldan is a former IPI employee who is not happy about IPI and should not badmouth the company.
Su cited IH Group’s transfer of $245,000 to IPI and assured that if IH Group does not pay according to their agreement, they will terminate their agreement. He said he wants to get a final result from IH Group.
Su also cited IPI’s contributions to the CNMI in terms of taxes, employment created, and community contributions.
Xing said that, since 2014, IPI’s cumulative investment in the CNMI has exceeded $1 billion.
Xing said IPI’s casino/resort project provided business opportunities to hundreds of local suppliers and, as a result, the CNMI’s Gross Domestic Product growth was 3.5% in 2015, 28.3% in 2016, and 25.6% in 2017.
He said IPI created more than 2,000 employment opportunities and helped create the new casino industry from scratch.
Xing said IPI attracted and trained hundreds of gaming talents for the CNMI.
He said IPI contributed more than $300 million to government finances, including $16,280,000 in licenses and fees paid in 2015.
In 2016, Xing said, IPI paid $35,601,000 in taxes and $15,934,000 in licenses and fees; $70,483,000 in taxes and $16,244,382 in licenses and fees in 2017; and $46,349,000 in taxes and $16,391,000 in licenses and fees in 2018.
He said IPI contributed to community and environmental protection that includes hundreds of community reconstruction, cleanup and beautification activities, and community donations of more than $6 million.
He said IPI’s promotion of the CNMI included nearly 100 international promotion events, such as the CNMI International Film Festival, International Business Forums, film and TV series shootings and international golf competitions.
CCC board chair Edward C. Deleon Guerrero said they cannot discuss talk further about the matter as the U.S. District Court’s temporary restraining order stands and that they are awaiting instructions from their legal counsel.
The chairman said he and the rest of the board members have a lot of questions for IPI, but that they are going to discuss the IPI matter during an executive session.
IPI filed a complaint last May 23 against CCC and obtained from the District Court a TRO prohibiting CCC from moving forward with a hearing on CCC’s five cases that seek to revoke IPI’s exclusive casino license.
IPI’s financier, IH Group representative Kyu Nam Kim, recently told the federal court that a sufficient investment is underway to assure IPI’s ability to make the financial commitment required by the settlement agreement.
In extending the TRO, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona noted, among other things, that IPI anticipates receiving $150 million in financing before the end of May 2022 to make payments due to the CCC and other creditors to resume its operations.
The parties then informed the court that they expect to finalize and execute a settlement agreement with CCC by July 18, 2022.
As of yesterday, IPI and CCC said the have not reached a deal as there are issues that go back and forth between the lawyers.