Casino commission seeks suspension of IPI license over unpaid community chest fund

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COMMONWEALTH Casino Commission acting Executive Director Charlie Atalig has filed a complaint against Imperial Pacific International for failing to contribute to the community benefit fund.

The violation, the complaint stated, “warrants a suspension of the casino license until such time as all required community benefit fund contributions are fully made.” However, he added, the violation does not “warrant revocation of the casino license agreement.”

Atalig, through Assistant Attorney General Mike Ernest, submitted his complaint dated May 28, 2020 to the casino commission which will serve as appellate court in the case similar to last year’s complaint when IPI failed to pay the annual $15 million casino license fee on time.

IPI is required by the casino license agreement to contribute $20 million in community benefit funds.

“On information and belief,” Atalig said IPI failed to remit $20 million on or before June 1, 2018.

IPI was also required to contribute $20 million in community benefit funds on or before Oct. 1, 2019.

“On information and belief,” Atalig said, IPI failed to remit the amount on or before the due date.

He said the failure to contribute these monies “constitutes a violation of the casino license agreement and breach of contract, both of which constitute ‘offenses.’ ”

Atalig said these actions or inactions are “inimical to the public health, safety, morals, good order and general welfare of the people of the Commonwealth” and “would reflect or tend to reflect discredit upon the Commonwealth or its gaming industry.”

In addition, he said IPI failed to self-report to the casino commission “all of the facts which gave rise to the violations.”

Atalig also noted that “breaching construction contracts for large sums of money is extremely deleterious to the image of gaming in the CNMI,” referring to the lawsuits filed by IPI’s vendors and contractors over nonpayment of bills.

Atalig acknowledged that IPI’s business was harmed by Super Typhoon Yutu and the coronavirus pandemic, but added that the casino investor’s failure to fully contribute to the community benefit fund predates the pandemic.

Atalig is requesting the casino commission to order IPI to pay a fine of $50,000 per major violation committed by IPI for a total of $100,000.

He also wants the commission to suspend IPI’ license “until such time as all required community benefit fund payments are made in full.”

This is a developing story.

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