By Nancy I. Maanao
The Saipan Chamber of Commerce is standing up for scores of businesses and hundreds of workers, who have grievances against Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC's casino operation.
In a letter to Commonwealth Casino Commission chairman Edward Deleon Guerrero, SCC president Velma Palacios says IPI, with its supposed $7 billion investment, should be made to pay its workers and vendors, follow the law, and treat people with respect and human decency.
Ms. Palacios said the SCC asks that "the Commonwealth Casino Commission hold Imperial Pacific International accountable for their violations of labor laws, wage and hour laws, and OSHA regulations. We ask the IPI be held to the same standards as the rest of our business community in practicing good corporate citizenry and governance."
The letter, which was copied to Gov. Ralph Torres, discusses a scheme by IPI to hide assets in order to avoid federal court auction so that IPI's employees could be paid. U.S District Court of the Northern Mariana Islands chief judge Ramona V. Manglona today held IPI in civil contempt and ordered the company to pay attorneys fees to the plaintiffs in the Wang v. Gold Mantis case. In her order, Ms. Manglona cited IPI's wonton refusal to make payments on her orders and by the court's deadlines and extensions.
"IPI's recent decision to deposit escrow fees into attorney's accounts to avoid their assets from being auctioned in Federal Court, instead of paying their employees, is indignant of the type of investor or business the Saipan Chamber of Commerce cannot continue to condone," Ms. Palacios stated in her letter.
The SCC calls out IPI to pay its past due taxes and fees, estimated at more than $25 million owed to the people of the Commonwealth.