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IPI workers’ protest continues

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THE casino and construction workers of Imperial Pacific International staged another protest action outside the federal court  on Wednesday, saying that it should “unfreeze” the IPI payroll account so they can get their salaries.

Imperial Pacific International bus driver Ed Oliva holds a placard as he joins IPI construction and casino workers during a protest action outside the federal courthouse at Horiguchi Building in Garapan on Monday.                                            Photo by Emmanuel T. Erediano

 

IPI workers interviewed by Variety said they were also circulating a petition to “restore IPI’s payroll account.”

The petition includes a list of cases that were “unfairly” decided against IPI.

These include the lawsuit filed by former IPI contractor, Pacific Rim.

The petition is urging the Attorney General’s Office, the Department of Public Safety and other government agencies involved, local and federal, to “investigate”  the case.

The petition said as a result of “breach of contract” by Pacific Rim the casino investor incurred a $4 million loss.

The petition added that the chief federal judge, Ramona V. Manglona, should not have granted the writ of execution until the case was completely heard and the appeal procedures completed.

“IPI has already invested billions of dollars on Saipan. There is no risk that its debt cannot be paid,” the petition stated.

On May 28, 2020, the federal court entered an amended civil judgment in favor of Pacific Rim in the amount of $6.8 million including the principal amount and attorney’s fees and costs.

The federal court also granted the application for a writ of execution filed by the contractor to seize money owned or controlled by IPI from Bank of Saipan, City Trust Bank, Bank of Guam, and First Hawaiian Bank; and two escrow accounts believed to be owned by IPI at Security Title Inc. and Pacific American Title Inc.

In the labor case filed by seven construction workers hired by its former contractor and subcontractor, MCC International Saipan Ltd. Co. and Gold Mantis Construction Decoration, IPI said it had already paid the data processing firm, Litigation Edge, $90,000 in fees.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, IPI “is struggling to pay its employees on time, thus, does not have the capability to pay another $30,000 to Litigation Edge.”

The petition stated that IPI has complied with the court by sending four IT specialists to prepare and process the data for the court to review. But these efforts were ignored, the petition stated, adding that the federal court should be aware that the Federal Bureau of Investigation confiscated more than 100 computers and other electronic equipment of IPI.

Up to now, the petition stated, there has not been any criminal charge filed against IPI related to those FBI raids.

Citing the failure of  IPI to comply with court sanctions and previous discovery orders in the lawsuit filed by the seven construction workers, the federal court entered a default judgement against the casino investor.

In the USA Fanter lawsuit against IPI, the petition stated that IPI suspects there were “internal deals” between former IPI construction managers and USA Fanter in preparing “fraudulent” progress reports and “over inflated” payment invoices.

USA Fanter, a construction contractor, sued IPI for refusing to pay the amount it owes the plaintiff for work completed under their construction contract in the amount of $2.089 million.

According to the petition circulated by IPI workers, the writ of execution froze their hard-earned money.

“We hereby petition for a change of judge, the restoration of IPI’s payroll account and to bring justice back to IPI,” the petition stated.

The IPI construction and casino workers staged their first protest action on Monday.

In an interview, IPI senior vice president for surveillance and security Donnie Browne said, “We are a good company. We are people. We are not some ugly monster.”

He said they are not asking the court to change the rules; they are just asking it to unfreeze the IPI bank account. “We need to operate. How can we possibly operate?”

 

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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