Casino Operator Imperial Pacific International to Face Insolvency Hearings

Posted on: October 12, 2023, 07:34h. 

Last updated on: October 12, 2023, 10:59h.

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) will decide later this year if it should eliminate Imperial Pacific International (IPI) from its casino plans. It may not have to wait, though, as two new lawsuits in Hong Kong want the company to be deemed insolvent.

A birds-eye view of the Imperial Palace casino in Saipan
A birds-eye view of the Imperial Palace casino in Saipan. The company behind the project faces insolvency hearings in Hong Kong. (Image: BJ Eddy/YouTube)

IPI Holdings Limited, the parent company of IPI and the Imperial Palace casino in Saipan, has revealed that it is “exploring its options and seeking professional guidance.” The Hong Kong-listed firm made the revelation in a filing with the Hong Kong bourse in response to two solvency petitions alleging nonpayment of judgment amounts.

IPI indicated that it received a solvency petition on September 14 from Guan Chubin. The basis for the petition is the purported failure of the company to settle a judgment for HKD20.8 million (US$2.66 million), along with interest and costs. A hearing for this case is scheduled for Nov. 22, 2023.

A second solvency petition was received on October 3, filed by Wang Yi, citing an alleged failure to settle a judgment of HKD5.3 million (US$677,700), plus interest and costs. The hearing for this petition is set for Dec. 6, 2023.

Ready to Pull the Plug

IPI Holdings didn’t indicate who the two petitioners are, or what the judgments are for. However, they’re two in a long list that has the embattled company on the hook for tens of millions of dollars, dating back several years.

The company issued a cautionary statement to shareholders stating that it’s ready to pull the plug if the solvency orders are granted. This is something the company suggested would have been a smart move a year ago.

In its filing, IPI Holdings made clear what would happen if it’s forced to call it quits in Saipan. It said that the transfer of any company property or assets — “including any transfer of shares of the company, or alteration in the status of the members of the company” — after the ruling would be null and void.

In other words, the company would not move forward with its other financial obligations. These include court orders to pay out millions of dollars in claims and to hand over certain assets to cover claims it hasn’t paid.

With two board members stepping down earlier in the week, IPI’s Board of Directors is actively evaluating its future, according to the filing. It’s reviewing the “impact of the petitions on the business operations,” as well as the financial standing of the company.

CCC Not Done with IPI

The solvency petitions coincide with IPI preparing for a hearing with the Commonwealth Casino Commission (CCC) of the CNMI to discuss the revocation of its license. The CCC, which IPI left virtually bankrupt, has repeatedly said that it wants to eliminate the casino license because of the company’s failure to comply with its agreement.

The gaming regulator filed five complaints against IPI in 2021, citing failures to meet obligations. These include an annual $15.5 million license fee and a $3.1 million regulatory fee. They also include mandatory contributions to the community benefit fund in 2018 and 2019, and other failures

The CNMI suspended IPI’s license in April 2021 because of its continued history of violations and lack of payments. However, the company has argued that it deserves yet another chance, blaming all of its issues – dating back to 2017 – on COVID-19.