Several island leaders chose to keep their opinions to themselves yesterday on the report that casino licensee Imperial Pacific International LLC has sued a New York-based business magazine, alleging defamation in its story about the casino on Saipan.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, along with Senate President Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan), and Commonwealth Casino Commission vice chair Joe Reyes, opted to withhold comment on the legal action IPI took against Bloomberg Businessweek.
In a statement to Saipan Tribune, IPI also put off commenting on the “ongoing defamation or slander-type lawsuit filed in Hong Kong to the parties in that jurisdiction” while Casino Commission executive director Edward Deleon Guerrero and House Speaker Rafael Demapan (R-Saipan) did not respond to Saipan Tribune’s request for comment.
According to media reports, IPI filed the lawsuit in Hong Kong against the magazine on the ground of defamation of character. The High Court of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s Court of First Instance reportedly issued a writ of summons for Bloomberg as its main defendant and reporters Matthew Campbell and K Oanh Ha as second and third defendants.
The lawsuit stems from a Feb. 15, 2018, Bloomberg story titled, “A Chinese Casino Has Conquered a Piece of America,” suggesting impropriety on the part of IPI and that IPI has been engaged in improper relationships with Torres and several members of his family, among many other allegations.
According to a Feb. 18, 2018 statement from IPI repudiating the story, it stated that the article was just one of many “false claims similar to other…Bloomberg articles involving Imperial Pacific.”
In a Feb. 20, 2018 statement from IPI, it announced that it would be pursuing legal action against the magazine.
Bloomberg, in a March 14, 2018, report, said the casino was raided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation early that month, which the company denied in a March 15, 2018 statement after “having made all reasonable inquiries.”
Rep. Edwin K. Propst (Ind-Saipan) told Saipan Tribune that he looks forward to the case as IPI now has to “show its cards.”
“If they feel they were wronged…they should pursue legal action. It is within their right. I look forward to what comes of it,” Propst told Saipan Tribune. “If [IPI] believes [the articles] are defamatory and they could prove it, then that is part of the [justice] process.”
Propst was quoted in Bloomberg’s Feb. 15, 2018 piece.