The CNMI Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit against Hong Kong Entertainment (Overseas) Investments Ltd., owner of Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino, for allegedly not complying with their settlement agreement for failing to pay $416,241.37 in liquidated damages that were assessed for non-payment of wages to Dynasty’s over 500 current and former workers.
Assistant attorney general Michael Witry, counsel for Labor, asked the Superior Court to register their consent judgment as a court judgment.
In Labor’s complaint, Witry requested the court to issue an order in aid of judgment, providing for the transfer of particular Dynasty assets at a price to be determined by the court.
As alternative, Witry asked the court to order for the sale of particular Dynasty assets and payment of the net proceeds to Labor.
Another option, Witry said, is a court order for payments, in specified installments on particular dates or at specified intervals, or for any other method of payments, which the court deems just.
Witry asked the court to issue any other order necessary to enforce the stipulated settlement and consent judgment.
On Feb. 23, 2016, Labor and HKE entered into a stipulated settlement and consent judgment in labor enforcement section.
In this Feb. 23 judgment, Labor found HKE in violation of Labor laws and required the company to make payments to its employees of $1,321,637.09 in back wages and $416,241.37 in liquidates damages.
HKE completed its payment of the back wages on March 15, 2016.
Witry said HKE did not pay the liquidated damages of $416,241.37 by the due date of March 15, 2016, and the amount remains due and owing.
Witry said the settlement agreement provides that upon the filing of a notice of non-compliance, Labor may exercise its option to treat this order as a final agency action and thereupon, file a direct action in the Superior Court to enforce the judgment.
Witry said Labor filed its notice of non-compliance with the hearing office on April 21, 2016, and served the notice upon HKE on April 2, 2016.
Witry said Labor requires the court’s assistance to collect the liquidated damages.
Tinian Labor employee R. Casandra Cabrera-Viches, in her declaration filed in court last April 25, stated that as of the date of the stipulated settlement and consent judgment, Labor was aware of two HKE officers: Christopher Bishop and Sterling Lundgren.
Cabrera-Viches said Labor has learned that neither Bishop nor Lundgren work for HKE any more, and has not determined who the current HKE officers are.
Cabrera-Viches said she served a copy of Labor’s notice of non-compliance upon HKE by affixing it to the front door of Tinian Dynasty on April 22, 2016.
Last April, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona ordered HKE to pay $1.4 million to two plane crash survivors to satisfy their settlement agreements.
Manglona said pending further court’s order, HKE shall refrain from the sale or transfer of any of its personal property, except in the normal course of business.
In February 2015, HKE attempted to sell Tinian Dynasty to Tinian Entertainment Co. Inc., but the Tinian Casino Gaming Control Commission rejected the sale.
In June 2015, HKE was found to have violated the Bank Secrecy Act and fined with a $75 million civil penalty.
HKE closed its casino operation at the Dynasty in August 2015, but then continued to operate its hotel.
Labor determined that from August 2015 through January 2016 (except for the pay period from Dec. 12-31, 2015), HKE operated the hotel, but stopped paying wages to all of its hourly and salaried workers.
About 400 workers continued to work at the Dynasty for more than four months without receiving their owed wages.