Hong Kong-listed Imperial Pacific International (IPI) has paid just US$41,000 in Business Gross Revenue Tax (BGRT) since 1 July 2018, according to officials from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
The tax figure was revealed last week during a House Ways and Means Committee meeting, local media reports, representing a steep decline from the US$40.9 million IPI paid in 2016, US$67.7 million in 2017 and US$43.6 million in 2018.
It comes after the company revealed last month a loss attributable to owners of the company of HK$2.97 billion (US$378.4 million) in FY18, compared with a profit of HK$637 million 12 months earlier. IPI said at the time that the loss was due to lower VIP volume on the back of the FIFA World Cup, tightening marker credits and disruption caused by typhoon Yutu, with gross gaming revenue at its Saipan casino down 58.2% year-on-year to HK$3.26 billion (US$415.3 million).
IPI Chairman Mark Brown told the Saipan Tribune that the company intended to fulfil its tax obligations and was in the process of pursuing trade receivables, which amounted to HK$9.67 billion through the end of 2018. IPI also wrote off trade receivables to the value of HK$4.69 billion last year.
“Since we have been here, we have been paying our taxes. We have paid about US$155 million of BGRT in cash,” Brown said. “When you see our receivables, VIPs come and they are not paying us back, the island still got US$155 million of tax in cash.
“In the couple of months that people are saying that we are behind, we are actually meeting with our accountants and looking into credits that we have coming to us. What does that mean? Do we or don’t we have credits coming? Once we have the answers to that, which we will be getting by this week, then we will go back to continue to pay what’s due.”
Brown also pointed to lower business volumes on the back of Typhoon Yutu as having impacted the payments.
“We used to pay BGRT in the amount of US$10 million, US$15 million, US$8 million but, obviously, businesses have slowed down,” he said. “We will get back up to that number again one day.
“As everyone else understands, many businesses had problems on staffing, some businesses closed [but] we didn’t. We are still struggling along. We are losing money every month but that’s the reality.
“The credits we still feel that are coming to us on those monthly recent BGRT moneys, our accountants and chief financial officer are trying to find out and, again, once we get the answer, we will go back and update the money for the previous months.”