IPI refiles lawsuits against CCC and CNMI governor

IPI refiles lawsuits against CCC and CNMI governor

The casino operator alleges a breach of its casino licence agreement amid ongoing disputes over regulatory fees.

Northern Mariana Islands.- Imperial Pacific International (IPI) has renewed its legal action against governor Arnold I. Palacios and the Commonwealth Casino Commission (CCC) officials, accusing them of breaching its casino licence agreement. 

Last month, IPI had requested the federal court dismiss the lawsuits without prejudice amid ongoing settlement negotiations with the CCC. However, the negotiations have stalled over the settlement amount. 

CCC claims that since 2020, IPI has failed to pay its US$15.5m annual exclusive casino licence fee and US$3.15m annual regulatory fee, and now owes US$79.63m. In the new lawsuit, IPI named governor Palacios and CCC officials, including chair Edward C. Deleon Guerrero, vice chair Rafael S. Demapan, commissioners Mariano Taitano, Martin Mendiola, Ramon M. Dela Cruz, and executive director Andrew Yeom, as defendants in their official and personal capacities. 

In addition to breach of contract allegations, IPI accuses the CCC officials of violating various constitutional clauses, including those pertaining to due process and takings. IPI wants the federal court to declare that the current regulatory scheme, established by 4 CMC §2314 and NMIAC § 175-10.1 is unconstitutional. 

Additionally, the company is seeking an injunction to prevent the defendants from exercising any power granted by 4 CMC §2314 and NMIAC § 175-10.1 as long as CCC is not and cannot function as an impartial decision-maker.

IPI is also seeking an injunction against defendants preventing the assumption of jurisdiction by CCC to interpret the terms of the casino license agreement or adjudicate claims arising out of the CLA, including but not limited to Complaints 2021-001, 002, 003, 004, and 005. 

IPI wants to ask the court to declare that the “Regulatory Fee Statute” is unconstitutional as it applies to the company. Additionally, it wants the defendants to give back the money paid by IPI for past regulatory fees. The casino operator also wants the defendants to cancel any administrative decisions made against IPI based on the annual Regulatory Fee Statute. This includes fees, interests and penalties imposed for not paying the annual regulatory fees and the suspension of IPI’s licence due to the annual regulatory fee statute. 

Meanwhile, the CCC has rescheduled for the third time the hearing for the revocation of IPI’s exclusive casino licence. The hearing is now set for February 28, at 9 am in the CCC’s conference room at Springs Plaza in Gualo Rai.

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Commonwealth Casino Commission Imperial Pacific International