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Image Source Saipan Tribune

IPI, CCC, NMI gov’t find themselves in deadlock regarding settlement negotiations

February 27, 2024 Saipan Crime & Legal

With only two days before the planned hearing to decide the future of Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC’s exclusive casino license, the government, the Commonwealth Casino Commission (CCC), and the company were at a standstill over settlement discussions as of yesterday afternoon.

According to CCC executive director Andrew Yeom, unless a court order pauses or suspends the proceedings, IPI has requested another delay of the planned revocation hearing. Nevertheless, Yeom wants to conduct the hearing tomorrow, Wednesday.

He said, “Without revealing details, we do not have a deal, therefore, I am moving forward as planned.” Separately, Howyo Chi, manager/director of IPI, informed the Saipan Tribune that, as of yesterday afternoon, no agreement had been made since they were still expecting word on their offer from the government.

Chi said that he sent CCC an email asking for a further hearing extension, but it was not answered. He continues by stating, “The government seems to need additional time to assess the settlement terms, prompting our request for another continuance.”

Due of sensitivity and secrecy, Yeom was unable to provide many details about the settlement talks in an interview last Sunday. In order to express his frustration with the settlement negotiations’ delay, he said, “I would love to share all of the details as I am frustrated by this delay in settlement talks that is beyond my control or liking.”

Yeom said that even while there had been a lot of progress, there were still a number of participants in the talks who need confirmation from both domestic and foreign sources. He emphasized that while there was currently no agreement, they were closer than ever to a deal.

Yeom underlined that the lengthy revocation procedure, which would call for many layers of court procedures, would not be the most dependable, time-efficient, or clean way to kickstart the CNMI economy. Instead, an amicable settlement technique would be.

The revocation hearing was rescheduled for February 12, 2024, from its original date of January 31, 2024. At the request of the parties, a new date of February 20, 2024, was set. Yeom and IPI requested a third joint motion on February 13 in order to reschedule the hearing for tomorrow, Wednesday, citing the need for more time due to the ongoing settlement negotiations.

Rafael Demapan, vice chair of the CCC board, expressed mounting doubts in granting the third request, questioning if a continuance was in the public interest. By December 30, 2023, IPI was supposed to have paid the CNMI government over $62 million for casino licenses, but they didn’t.

Original story by: Saipan Tribune

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