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House panel will discuss next steps to take regarding IPI

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REPRESENTATIVE Ralph N. Yumul, chairman of the House Committee on Gaming, said they have yet to decide whether to pursue other means to bring in Imperial Pacific International representatives to testify before lawmakers.

The Commonwealth Casino Commission invited IPI representatives to a meeting with lawmakers on Thursday, but they declined to answer questions.

“I think they got cold feet because anything that they might say in front of [lawmakers] might hurt them. We called them in, but they decided not to testify, so as of now, we, the committee, have not decided what to do yet,” Yumul said.

 

From left, Rep. Tina Sablan, back to the camera, talks to Commonwealth Casino Commission acting Executive Director Charlie Atalig, center, while House Gaming Committee Chairman Ralph Yumul listens following a bicameral committee meeting Thursday. Photo by K-Andrea Evarose S. Limol

He added that the gaming committee is scheduled to reconvene in the coming week to further discuss what next steps to take so lawmakers can receive sufficient answers from IPI regarding its funding and operations.

“Since [IPI] is a private entity, we cannot just bring them up here. There has to be, at least, some valid reasons that they would have to come up, whether it’s the community benefit fund or the status of their human resources. There are a whole lot of issues that need to be discussed, and right now, we are giving the casino commission the opportunity to get those [information] for us so that we don’t have to bring a private entity up here just to discuss this,” Yumul said.

The commission is bound by confidentiality rules, he added, and legislation to bypass such rules is tricky because it would have to apply across-the-board, not just to IPI, but to other private entities.

“We do respect their privacy, but we also have the power to go into executive session,” he added, explaining that there could be a closed-door session between lawmakers and IPI.

“We prefer them just laying it on the table, so at least we know their situation, then see what happens. Right now, [IPI] is in court, and we don’t want to get involved with that right now. That’s out of our jurisdiction right now. So all we ask is at least for the CCC to update [the Legislature] since they get most of the information from [IPI] directly.”

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