US Marshals Service to Seize Imperial Palace Saipan Casino Assets

Posted on: July 21, 2021, 01:02h. 

Last updated on: July 21, 2021, 02:18h.

The United States Marshals Service has been instructed by a judge in the US District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands to seize assets from the shuttered Imperial Palace Saipan casino resort. 

US Marshals Service Imperial Palace Saipan casino
One of two crystal dragons that hang in the Imperial Palace Saipan hotel lobby on the Northern Mariana Islands. US Marshals have been directed to seize the dragons, as well as other valuable assets, from the casino resort. (Image: Flickr)

Hong Kong-based Imperial Pacific International (IPI), the developer of the $3.9 billion integrated resort, has been the subject of numerous lawsuits and regulatory fines.

In May, Mariana Islands District Court Chief Judge Ramona Manglona ruled in favor of seven former construction workers who claimed IPI violated numerous terms of their employment contracts, some of which resulted in serious injury.

The court verdict mandated that IPI pay the seven plaintiffs a combined $5.43 million, or roughly $775,000 each. Imperial Pacific has filed appeals, petitions that Manglona has rejected.

Located in the Pacific Ocean, the Northern Mariana Islands came under US sovereignty on November 4, 1986. 

Computers, Gaming Machines Seize

IPI, thought to be financially insolvent, has failed to pay a $15.5 million licensing fee and a $3.1 million regulatory fee for 2021. 

The company has also not fulfilled its pledged $20 million annual donations to the island’s Community Benefit Fund, which was part of IPI’s licensing approval, since 2017. Courts have also agreed in favor of construction companies that claim they’re owed $14 million in back pay. 

With shares of Imperial Pacific International trading on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange at less than one US cent, Manglona is ordering US Marshals to seize available assets from Imperial Palace Saipan to deliver some sort of award for the seven workers.

Manglona says federal agents should seize all computers, furniture and equipment, motor vehicles, and casino gaming machines. Additionally, the marshals are to take two large crystal dragons hanging in the hotel lobby. 

The Marshals Service is the oldest federal law enforcement agency in the United States. The bureau is within the US Department of Justice. 

The Marshals Service’s primary responsibility is to protect federal judges and politicians. But the agency additionally handles fugitive apprehensions, criminal asset management, the federal Witness Protection Program, and execution of federal arrest warrants. 

Casino Remains Closed

Imperial Palace Saipan shuttered in March 2020 because of COVID-19. The casino, hotel, and resort all remain closed.

In April, the Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Casino Commission ordered the indefinite suspension of Imperial Palace’s casino license. The decision was the result of the company failing to pay the associated annual dues as previously mentioned, plus its failure to abide by court rulings.

Imperial Pacific International reported a $367 million loss in 2020 on revenue of just $3.6 million. Despite the dismal performance, the company told investors that the future is bright.

Our Group remains committed to our mission of enhancing the tourism of Saipan,” a note to investors declared. “Once the travel restrictions in Saipan are lifted, the casino in Imperial Palace Saipan shall resume operations.”

The Casino Control Commission, however, says the casino won’t welcome back gamblers until such outstanding licensing and regulatory fees are remedied.