Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC is facing probable suspension of its Saipan casino license after admitting to multiple violations of the CNMI Casino Control Act.
According to a report by Saipan Tribune, IPI and the Commonwealth Casino Commission reached an agreement this week under which IPI admitted to violating five orders from the regulator. Those orders included failure to pay its US$3.1 million annual regulatory fee in 2020, failure to comply with an order to settle debts with vendors, failure to fulfil minimum capital requirements, failure to pay its annual US$15.5 million casino license fee in 2020, and failure to contribute US$20 million to the community benefit fund on two occasions in 2018 and 2019.
Lawyers representing both IPI and the CCC have now been ordered to file proposed orders outlining fines and penalties to be imposed on the casino operator, with suspension of license almost certain to be imposed.
Mike Ernst, the Assistant Attorney General representing CCC Executive Chairman Andrew Yeom, said he would ask for “a license suspension of indeterminate amount until they fully comply with the orders that they have violated.”
Despite Ernst having calculated that the maximum fine imposable upon IPI for its transgressions amounts to a whopping US$808 million, Yeom is asking for a much smaller US$5 million fine to be paid in return for lifting of any license suspension.
However it has also been proposed that the fine be lifted to US$20 million in lieu of full revocation of the casino license. Both parties have agreed that revocation is not in anyone’s best interests, although Ernst noted that imposing a US$20 million fine would be similar to revocation as IPI would never be able to pay such an amount given its dire financial circumstances.
“We should be screaming from the tree tops, ‘We’re going to revoke your license, we’re going revoke your license.’ The good news is I think they’re hearing that message right now,” Ernst said. “I think it would be very arguable that they didn’t have proper notice should that (revocation) occur as a result of today’s hearing.”