Regulator denies IPI’s request for abatement

IPI is already facing legal claims for unpaid work.
IPI is already facing legal claims for unpaid work.

The casino says it cannot pay its US$15.5 million licence fee this year due to the drop in business during the pandemic.

Northern Mariana Islands.- The Commonwealth Casino Commission (CCC) of the Northern Mariana Islands has been quick to deny Imperial Pacific International’s (IPI) request for an abatement on its casino licence fee of US$15.5 million for this year.

The payment was due on August 12, but the day before that IPI’s CEO, Donald Browne, sent a note to the CCC arguing that the casino’s closure since March due to Covid-19 measures, and uncertainty on when local gaming and tourism industries would resume, constituted a “classic force majeure” that justified the abatement.

CCC chairman Edward DeLeon Guerrero responded to IPI’s request in a note, saying: “IPI needs to fulfil its obligations, not only to the people of the CNMI, but also to their employees, vendors, and other parties who are contracted to work with their organization.”

He added that the CCC was “deeply disappointed in IPI’s decision to request an abatement of their annual license fee and casino regulatory fee.”

IPI is facing several legal battles for unpaid work from vendors and suppliers, and the CCC was already claiming funds the casino’s licence obligations demand it pay to community projects.

DeLeon Guerrero concluded: “The CCC is continuing its enforcement and investigations of its recent Orders that encompass the entire range of any payables or contributions owed to public entities and prepared to seek all remedies under the CNMI gaming laws and under the Casino License Agreement as they relate to IPI’s nonpayment and other non-compliance matters.”

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