Yumul wants casino to succeed, resolve IPI’s issues

Citing Tinian Dynasty’s case, Yumul says if IPI fails it will take years before another casino investor comes in

Former Saipan senator Ray Naraja Yumul is considering serving as chief executive officer of Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC, saying he wants the casino industry to succeed and resolve the many issues that IPI is facing in the CNMI.

Among those issues are legal disputes, the reported humanitarian crisis affecting many former employees, and unpaid payrolls, among other things, and that’s the challenge for the next CEO, Yumul said in an interview yesterday.

“I’m glad that IPI is now finally considering a local boy, basically, for the casino industry,” said Yumul after a status conference in two cases filed against IPI at the Commonwealth Casino Commission’s conference room at Springs Plaza in Gualo Rai.

Yumul attended the status conference, but did not participate.

The former senator said he wants to make sure that IPI comes through and survive. “I want them to succeed. The community wants them to succeed because if they fail, it’ll be years, who knows how long, before another licensee comes up,” he pointed out.

Yumul cited the case of the defunct Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino. He said the Tinian casino law allows for five casinos, but when Tinian Dynasty shut down, they were unable to muster a replacement casino.

“So if IPI fails, there won’t be another investor for years to come, if at all. That’s a very strong possibility,” he said.

Yumul said COVID-19 is going to be with the CNMI for the rest of this year, and nobody knows if it’s still be here next year. He said investors are not going to jump in next year or maybe the following year, as they want to see first how the economy here rebounds and recovers.

“And then they have to go through the process of being graded. …So that really is not in the best interest of everybody,” Yumul said.

He said people want to keep what the CNMI has, fix the problems, and move forward.

On the CEO position, Yumul said he and IPI are still in negotiation, but that CCC executive director Andrew Yeom was right when he told the CCC board during Wednesday’s board meeting that he (Yumul) and IPI have a verbal agreement.

Yumul said he has many conditions, though, and will be giving IPI a document that will itemize those conditions. “And that’s what I’m doing right now. That’s why it’s not formalized because, upon [IPI’s] acceptance [of the conditions], then I will accept the position,” he said.

Some of those conditions, Yumul said, are obviously the biggest concerns that are confronting IPI now—the cases in federal court, and the humanitarian issue. He said those are concerns that he wants to resolve.

Yumul said he finds it “very interesting” that the prior CEO did not accomplish one critical task despite being on the job for seven months. Although he did not mention any name, he was obviously referring to Donald R. Browne, who resigned as CEO last month.

When asked why IPI had no lawyer for the CCC hearing yesterday, Yumul said his understanding is that IPI lawyer Michael W. Dotts had another pressing issue and was probably in another court hearing.

He said he is aware that U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona issued an order yesterday that stopped all IPI employees from working except those in charge of payroll and security.

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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