Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC reportedly owes the CNMI government $17 million in annual Community Benefit Fund money pursuant to the Casino License Agreement.
The Commonwealth Casino Commission was asked to report to the House Gaming Committee on the status of IPI’s Community Benefit Fund payments after committee chair Rep. Ralph Yumul (R-Saipan) noted in an Oct. 18, 2019, letter to the commission that audited financial statements suggest the company owes the CNMI government about $17 million in Community Benefit Fund payments for 2018.
“According to the audited financial statements for the years ended Dec. 31, 2017, and Dec. 31, 2018, IPI owed $17 million in distributions from the Community Benefit Fund,” Yumul wrote to CCC executive director Edward Deleon Guerrero and CNMI Lottery Commission chair Mark Rabauliman.
The same letter asked both the CCC and the Lottery Commission to report to the Gaming Committee the status of IPI’s compliance with the Casino License Agreement, or CLA.
“Pursuant to Section 16 of the CLA, IPI was required to contribute $10 million to the Community Benefit Fund no later than Jan. 1, 2018, and another $10 million to the same no later than June 1, 2018,” Yumul wrote. “Thereafter, IPI is required to pay $20 million every year, beginning on or before Oct. 1, 2019,” he added.
The funds is supposed to be distributed to support community benefit programs such as education, scholarships, health care, and retirement benefits, among others, in consultation with the governor.
The letter asked the CCC and the Lottery Commission about the actions they took, based on information gathered from audited financial statements for the years ended Dec. 31, 2017 and Dec. 31, 2018, and, if none were taken, why not.
“…Austerity measures for the Commonwealth government have continued into fiscal year 2020, and many critical public services and programs that have been hampered by shortfalls in funding could be greatly assisted with distributions from the Community Benefit Fund,” Yumul said.
“The exclusive [CLA] is a contract between IPI and the Commonwealth government, and the license must be held accountable for honoring all of its promises, including its Community Benefit Fund obligations,” he added.
Saipan Tribune tried to obtain comments from IPI but the company did not respond to inquiries as of press time.