Imperial Pacific Int’l Faces $62M Fine, May Lose Saipan Casino Exclusivity

Posted on: October 27, 2023, 06:42h. 

Last updated on: October 30, 2023, 05:00h.

Imperial Pacific Internationa’s  (IPI) grip on casino exclusivity in Saipan is slipping fast as it faces a $62 million fine.

The Imperial Palace casino in Saipan, seen from the air
The Imperial Palace casino in Saipan, seen from the air. Imperial Pacific International has been given a month to pay its outstanding debt to the government to avoid losing its license. (Image: Saipan Tribune)

The Commonwealth Casino Commission (CCC) issued a 30-day ultimatum to IPI on Thursday, according to the Marianas Variety.

The CCC demands the settlement of outstanding fees tied to its casino license and exclusivity agreement in Saipan. The fee encompasses the $15.5 million annually owed by IPI from 2020 to 2023, a debt that has accrued without a single payment.

The CCC’s move comes as a resolute response to IPI’s prolonged failure to fulfill its financial obligations, jeopardizing the exclusive rights the company has held in Saipan. If the sum isn’t paid within the designated time frame, the CCC is poised to revoke IPI’s exclusivity.

Alternative Proposals

IPI Director How Yo Chi, a former assistant and translator to ousted chair Cui Lijie, countered the CCC’s stringent deadline. He asserted that 30 days is an insufficient window for the company to meet such a substantial financial demand. Exacerbating the issue is the fact that the Imperial Palace remains closed.

How proposed an alternative plan with the IPI paying $5 million to the government and an additional $1 million to the CCC annually for the next two to four years. That would make the maximum amount the government receives $24 million.

This proposed arrangement, while offering a scaled-down payment structure, has been met with skepticism, given IPI’s history of unfulfilled financial promises. The company has previously claimed to have robust financial backing that never materialized.

The company reportedly has a Japanese backer willing to invest $350 million if IPI retains exclusivity.

CCC chair Edward C. Deleon Guerrero offered a counterproposal for IPI to make annual payments of just over $5.1 million until the company pays off the debt in 2032. It’s also in addition to all new fees and legal obligations that have emerged through a constant flow of lawsuits.

Drug Trafficking Claims

In yet another bit of negative publicity involving IPI, it has refuted claims made by a drug trafficker that he was in Saipan on invitation by the company. Liang Yang entered a guilty plea for conspiracy to possess methamphetamine with the intent to distribute in Saipan. This came after he was arrested following the seizure of 10 pounds of liquid methamphetamine valued at over $1.8 million.

Yang’s admission comes as part of a deal brokered with prosecutors. It sets the stage for a January sentencing hearing that will determine the consequences of his involvement in the illicit drug trade.

How vehemently denied any connection to Yang during a media briefing on Wednesday.

Cui, who still holds a majority stake in IPI, admitted to knowing Yang. She acknowledged a shared history of operating restaurants in Beijing with Yang’s girlfriend.