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Complaint filed against IPI for nonpayment of casino license fee

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COMMONWEALTH Casino Commission Executive Director Andrew Yeom on Wednesday filed a notice of complaint against Imperial Pacific International for its failure to pay the $15.5 million annual casino license fee.

IPI was given 15 days, upon receipt of the notice, to pay the license fee. The notice was served on Thursday, Casino Commission Chairman Edward C. Deleon Guerrero said.

The notice of complaint states: “Defendant IPI’s material breach of stipulated agreement and the casino license agreement constitutes breaches of contract as those terms are used in regulation Section 175-10.1-1805(b)(15), and the Commonwealth has been damaged because of IPI’s material breach of contract.”

The complaint “finds, declares and orders that IPI’s license to conduct gaming operations on Saipan be suspended until such time as the annual casino license fee is paid in full.”

The commission was also asked to impose a fine of $50,000 per day on IPI.

Last week, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres issued a “notice of intent” to suspend or revoke the IPI casino license in light of its failure to pay the annual exclusive license fee for this year on Aug. 12, 2020.

IPI chief executive officer Donald Browne told the CNMI government that the casino investor would not be able to pay the fee this year because IPI has been closed since March, and will have no income for the next eight months. “What has happened is a classic ‘force majeure’…and that was beyond the control of IPI,” Browne said.

Under the casino license agreement, Deleon Guerrero said the governor also has the power to suspend or revoke the casino license.

As for the casino commission, he said its power to suspend or revoke the license is provided for by the casino law.

This is not the first time that a notice of complaint against IPI was filed with the casino commission for the casino investor’s failure to pay the license fee.

Last year, IPI also missed the deadline, prompting Deleon Guerrero, who was then, the commission executive director to file a notice of complaint.

IPI was able to pay within 15 days.

“Normally, the executive director, after consultation with the investigative arm, and once they concluded the investigation, would file the complaint with the commission,” Deleon Guerrero said.

“Once the complaint is filed, a copy is given to IPI, which [will have] 15 days to cure the problem,” he added.

IPI, however, can request for a hearing so the commission, which will serve as an appellate court, can hear its side.

 

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