A United States court with jurisdiction in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) held the Saipan casino operator Imperial Pacific International (IPI) and its chief executive officer in contempt for their deliberate slowness of payments ordered by the cut a group of your former employees.
Chief Judge Ramona Manglona of the U.S. District Court for the CNMI said that the IPI and its executive director, Donald Browne, were in contempt by failing to comply with previously issued court orders for the timely payment of $ 93,000 in fees of lawyers.
Manglona’s order to IPI to pay the amount owed was issued in August. The $ 93,000 payment was to be made to seven construction workers who filed a lawsuit against IPI for unfair labor practices while working at the company’s Imperial Palace casino.
In the court’s view the legal fees were fully justified due to IPI’s “repeated failures” to present the documents related to the case in court.
As it has done with other creditors, IPI declared itself in financial distress. For this reason the judge gave the company one month to pay. However, she ordered the company to make interim payments according to their availability. As expected, IPI did not make any payment for legal fees.
To the plaintiffs’ surprise, IPI was making other payments without paying a penny of legal fees. Manglona then threatened IPI with finding him in contempt and Browne with a prison order, because he paid in ignorance of the court order.
It appears that the judicial threat was effective, because on december 4, just a week before Manglona’s scheduled hearing to issue the contempt order against IPI and Browne, the company made the late payments of legal fees.
The judge told the Saipan Tribune that the only reason Browne was not in jail was because he had paid.
CNMI has an incentive to collect IPI debts
On the other hand, the CNMI government recently approved new legislation that allows the government to obtain an extra financial incentive, if it takes legal action against the numerous VIP players of the casino, who have circumvented and ignored the credit markers of the IPI.
The IPI has accumulated large losses of hundreds of millions of dollars in credits granted, due to a common practice in the last two years of Chinese VIP players arriving in Saipan. After gambling and accumulating gambling debts, they return to mainland China where it is impossible to collect such debts from them.
Sometimes when a Chinese VIP has business ties with the United States, the IPI has been able to take legal action in the United States courts, because the CNMI belongs to the Commonwealth of the United States.) These criminals are precisely the ones that the CNMI must now pursue their gambling bills to pay.
According to Senate Bill 21-75, the CNMI Attorney General could order liens against properties or businesses of VIP players in the US who evade their debts.
Although there is already a law that allows the government to claim 10% of gambling debts collected by legal means. But now SB 21-75 will increase this participation to 15%, plus interest and liquidated damages.
Last week, this bill was approved on first reading, and it will be retroactive. In other words, the CNMI will be able to collect debts from VIPs contracted since 2016, just when the IPI was operating a casino in a luxurious shopping center.
IPI’s debts to the CNMI government amount to several tens of millions in unpaid licenses and regulatory fees. The IPI does not seem willing to pay any of these debts, at least not for now.
Therefore, it would not be strange to think that the government with this collection action is seeking to recover the losses caused by the terrible administration of the IPI, whose ineptitude was already quite visible before the coronavirus pandemic.
15% of a mountain of almost irrecoverable debts does not represent a major profit for the CNMI and frees the IPI from the task of collecting its credits. It will now depend on the government and its ability to force VIP players to pay.