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Last updateSat, 07 Dec 2019 12am







    Saturday, December 7, 2019-6:00:50A.M.






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Casino commission: IPI not entitled to stay order

IMPERIAL Pacific International is not entitled to a stay order, the Commonwealth Casino Commission said in its opposition to the emergency motion filed by IPI with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

IPI does not meet any of the four factors considered by the court when weighing whether to issue a stay and grant an injunction pending appeal, CCC added.

The four factors are: (1) whether the stay applicant has made a strong showing that he is likely to succeed on the merits; (2) whether the applicant will be irreparably injured absent a stay; (3) whether issuance of the stay will substantially injure the other parties interested in the proceeding; and (4) where the public interest lies.

On Aug. 8, 2019, the Ninth Circuit issued a stay order temporarily preventing CCC from disclosing IPI’s audited financial statements.

IPI attorneys Viola Alepuyo and Philip Tydingco appealed the Aug. 6, 2019 decision and order of District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona who denied the petition for a preliminary injunction against CCC filed by IPI and its subsidiaries, Grand Mariana LLC and Imperial Pacific Properties LLC.

CNMI Office of the Attorney General Chief of Civil Division Christopher Timmons, who represents CCC, said IPI failed to demonstrate both a likelihood of success on the merits and irreparable harm.

Timmons said on these grounds, IPI’s motion should be denied.

He added that the remaining factors balancing the hardships and considering the public interests do not weigh in favor of an injunction pending appeal.

He said the Ninth Circuit should deny IPI’s motion for a stay and for an injunction pending appeal.

According to Timmons, IPI’s assertion premised on an individual right to privacy under the CNMI and U.S. Constitutions is without merit.

“Put simply, there is no Ninth Circuit or U.S. Supreme Court precedent which holds that corporations have the type or privacy right as asserted by IPI,” he said.

Timmons said IPI has asked the Ninth Circuit for a stay order premised on the outcome of a pending motion for remand.

“This appeal appears to have been brought in an intellectually inconsistent manner,” he added.

He said IPI wants the Ninth Circuit to consider its appeal at the same time that it seeks to strip the District Court of its jurisdiction to hear the case at all.

By seeking relief in federal courts and simultaneously seeking to remand the case back to CNMI courts, Timmons said IPI presents conflicting positions.

Timmons said IPI “effectively is speaking out of both sides of its mouth.”

He added, “IPI argues that the District Court should remand and/or abstain from hearing the matter while at the very same time, its wholly owned and wholly controlled subsidiaries, the plaintiffs-in-intervention, have withdrawn the motion for remand/abstention (the very motion upon which appellant’s emergency motion rests) and have submitted to the District Court’s jurisdiction.”

Timmons said this is “simply gamesmanship and an attempt to sow confusion and cause delay rather than move towards a decision on merits.”

In its emergency motion, IPI said the CNMI Gaming Control Act conflicts with other Commonwealth statutes related to tax returns and tax information as well as the CNMI Open Government Act.

But Timmons said there is no conflict with CNMI laws. “Simply put, basic principles of statutory construction provide that a more recent statute trumps an older statute and that a more specific statute controls over a more general statute,” he added.

IPI said it will suffer irreparable harm if its audited confidential tax information is disclosed. IPI also expressed concern about the disclosure’s possible effect on investor confidence.

Timmons said IPI’s arguments, at best, only amount to the speculative possibility of harm.

Preventing disclosure of information which was deemed by the CNMI Legislature as non-confidential is against the public interest, Timmons said.

“Additionally, preventing disclosure of public information related to the exclusive holder of a casino gaming license in the CNMI runs counter to the aims of the [gaming] statute and also is against the public interest,” he added.