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Image Source Saipan Tribune

IPI, CCC reaches $49-million settlement, NMI gov’t rejects terms

March 5, 2024 Saipan Crime & Legal

A proposed $49 million settlement between Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC and Andrew Yeom, the executive director of the Commonwealth Casino Commission (CCC), was agreed to by Howyo Chi, the director/manager of IPI, on Friday. Arnold I. Palacios, the governor, has vetoed the settlement terms.

After closing arguments on Friday’s hearing regarding the possible revocation of IPI’s exclusive casino license, IPI’s motion to disqualify the commissioners from overseeing the case, along with other motions, are being advised and will be dealt with in a written order, according to CCC board vice chair Rafael S. Demapan and the board’s attorney, assistant attorney general Carl Dela Cruz.

Within thirty days, the commissioners will review the matter and the public will have a chance to comment, according to Demapan.

Chi said in court that IPI and Yeom or the CCC came to an arrangement wherein IPI would first pay $16–$17 million to end the CCC’s suspension of its casino license, and then $31 million to settle its annual regulatory and licensing fee arrears. More talks were nonetheless necessary since Palacios did not approve of the settlement deal.

Chi voiced discontent with the bargaining process, pointing out that proposals were made and accepted by one party while being ignored or rejected by another. There was no good offer from Palacios despite efforts to bargain.

If the license is revoked, Chi said that IPI is willing to pay a fee and go on with the conversation.

Blaise emphasized the importance of adhering to legal and regulatory standards during closing arguments. She cited IPI’s failure to pay the 2020 regulatory fee and the CCC’s power to revoke IPI’s casino license in the event that duties are not met.

Chen emphasized constitutional issues with the $3 million regulatory fee and argued against the license being completely revoked, pointing out detrimental effects on IPI, the community, and the gambling sector.

Lastly, the commissioners have the authority to decide on the proper course of action, which may include revocation. Chen stressed that it would be detrimental to all parties involved to completely revoke the agreement.

Original story by: Saipan Tribune

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