The US District Court has threatened to take Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC boss Donald Browne into custody unless the company can show cause why he should not be found in contempt for failure to comply with court orders.
The show cause notice follows an order issued by the court in August for IPI to pay attorneys’ fees totalling almost US$94,000 to seven former construction workers currently suing the company for alleged forced labor and negligence. The fine, yet to be paid despite the court granting IPI a previous 30-day extension, was issued as a result of IPI failing to comply with various court orders related to discovery.
According to the Saipan Tribune, NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona issued an order last Wednesday stating that IPI must show cause by Friday 4 December why Browne should not be found in contempt. The order demands an explanation as to why Browne should not be forced to personally pay a US$500 per day fine until the US$94,000 is paid in full, and if not completed within seven days why he should not be taken into custody.
The court has already found IPI in civil contempt and ordered the company to pay a US$2,000 per day fine, which also remains unpaid.
“Monetary sanctions against IPI have proven insufficient to compel its directors and executives to take the steps necessary to comply with the orders of the court,” the judge stated in issuing the show cause notice.
IPI has faced increasing difficulty in fulfilling its financial obligations in recent months, citing a lack of cash flow following the closure of its Saipan casino in March due to COVID-19.
Last month the Commonwealth Casino Commission (CCC) of the CNMI said it was looking into a potential breach of orders related to IPI’s casino license for failure to pay employees. The company had previously requested abatement of its US$15.5 million annual license fee for 2020.