Commonwealth Casino Commission chair Edward Deleon Guerrero is floating the idea of holding a public hearing to determine and lay bare Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC’s “financial suitability” to continue the construction and operation of the casino/resort facility in Garapan, among other projects.
Speaking at the CCC board’s monthly meeting last week, Deleon Guerrero said they will ask the company to prove that it has the money to continue with its projects in the CNMI.
“And if you do have the money, it becomes clear that you are financially suitable and you’re entitled to hold on to the [ casino] license,” he said.
Citing previous actions that the CCC has taken against IPI, he said they required IPI to pay its vendors who have uncontested claims in 90 days, that they asked IPI to appoint a chief executive officer who is empowered with the ability to handle finances and construction and that the CEO should not be “kept in the dark.” Deleon Guerrero said they also asked IPI to create a reserve payroll. “Again, that cannot be ignored,” he said.
Deleon Guerrero said if the IPI board in Hong Kong does not know or is not aware that they’re looking at setting a public hearing, this proceeding may potentially result in regulatory suspension of IPI’s license.
“It’s a big difference between suspension because of COVID-19 versus suspension because you violated the regulatory regulation,” he pointed out.
The big difference, Deleon Guerrero said, is that the IPI board knows that the next phase behind a suspension is that, if they don’t correct the deficiency, there is no other choice but revocation of the license.
“I don’t know if you can manage to convince the Hong Kong group to understand that,” the chairman told IPI officials who attended the meeting.
Deleon Guerrero said IPI is maybe running out of time if they don’t honor those financial obligations.
IPI has failed to pay, among other things, $15.5 million in annual casino license fee that was due last Aug. 12 and $3 million in regulatory fee that was due last Oct. 1.
He emphasized that they are according IPI due process and that they are making sure, as part of their regulatory function, that IPI, the casino licensee, is financially suitable. “We have an obligation to make sure that we monitor and then you maintain financial stability,” he said.
The chairman said they had asked the Office of the Attorney General to come up with a clear definition of what is “financial stability” and that the OAG came down to the use of the Nevada model of solvency plus one, which means that “you must be paying your debt as they become due,” among other factors that define suitability.