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Mark Brown resigns

IPI confident it will finish project by 2021
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Mark A. Brown

Mark A. Brown resigned as interim chairman of Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC effective last Sunday, according to Commonwealth Casino Commission executive director Edward Deleon Guerrero yesterday.

His resignation, which comes on the heels of Phillip J. Tydingco’s departure as IPI’s chief legal counsel effective tomorrow, Friday, as as well last month’s Federal Bureau of Investigation’s raids that included IPI’s accounting office, puts into question the company’s capability to finish its casino-resort project in Garapan.

IPI’s majority shareholder, Ji Xiaobo, has assured Deleon Guerrero, though, that they can finish the casino-resort project on or before February 2021, which is the extended deadline given to the company by the Lottery Commission.

Deleon Guerrero said that, based on his conversation with Ji Xiaobo last Monday, IPI needs just a relatively “manageable amount” to complete the whole project.

In reference to Brown’s resignation, Deleon Guerrero said he received Brown’s email message last Sunday that he is resigning from his position as interim chairman of IPI CNMI

He said Brown had indicated in his email that when he returned to IPI last year, he was merely acting as the interim chairman, similar to an adviser to the company, and was not necessarily its chief executive officer.

Deleon Guerrero said that Brown thanked the casino commission for the opportunity to have worked with them.

Deleon Guerrero said Brown also mentioned some other issues, but he did not elaborate. He noted, though, that Brown was not present at the casino commission’s last two meetings, despite being notified about the meetings in advance.

He said it has been the position of the casino commission that Brown, as the highest officer of IPI, should be responsible for the ongoing construction project, for the marketing activities of IPI and for its financials, and they are thus very concerned about its ongoing projects.

He said if the CEO cannot do that, then the CCC would be forced to examine the casino key employee license processing procedures.

“As part of our casino regulatory requirements, whoever IPI hires to replace the CEO or the chief legal counsel, would [be] required [to] secure a casino key employee license from the commission. This is IPI’s responsibility,” Deleon Guerrero pointed out.

He said they are communicating now to see that IPI’s new general counsel, Joey Patrick San Nicolas, and whoever they appoint for the new chairman or CEO must secure a casino key employee license from CCC. To get started, the commission can issue a short-term one-year provisional license, he added.

He said what they could do is require IPI to submit the application for the full two-year key employee license, which is very extensive.

“And we would proceed with our due diligence and, within that one-year period, when we complete our due diligence, we would then prepare all the necessary documentation to present to the commission for the full two-year license,” Deleon Guerrero said.

After guiding IPI through many key phases in its casino project, Brown left the company in late 2017, reportedly to retire and “spend more time with his family” in the U.S. mainland.

He returned to IPI in October 2018, as the completion of the Garapan casino-resort project “enters its final phase.”

Deleon Guerrero said that Ji informed him that they have identified the amount needed to complete the project. He declined to discuss the exact amount, aside from saying that IPI had sat down with their engineers and everybody on the ground and they went to make a complete assessment.

“And they came back and they told us how much they would need for personnel labor, how much they need for materials,” he said.

Deleon Guerrero said a significant amount of materials are already on the island and in warehouses.

He said IPI is confident they would finish the entire project on or before February 2021.

Deleon Guerrero said they have been working with IPI to provide the CCC the financial documents that they require them to submit as part of the financial review.

“We are reviewing those now. And we will be discussing that with the commission at the Dec. 19 meeting,” he said.

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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