Saipan casino operator Imperial Pacific International Holdings Ltd has publicly denied media reports that it is the subject of a US financial watchdog investigation.
Over the weekend, Bloomberg reported that the runaway success of Imperial Pacific’s temporary casino Best Sunshine Live had sparked a probe by the US Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). Saipan is part of the Northern Mariana Islands, a US commonwealth.
On Tuesday, Imperial Pacific requested and was granted a halt in trading of its shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. That same day, Imperial Pacific issued a statement saying Bloomberg’s “allegations are false” and that Imperial Pacific “has never received any investigation notice” from FinCEN.
Imperial Pacific said it has implemented “stringent internal control measures and has fully applied an anti-money laundering system” that complies with all applicable US laws and regulations.
Imperial Pacific also challenged Bloomberg’s claim that its VIP tables were “almost empty” on a Saturday night. The company claims its internal log data shows visitor headcounts at 10pm have never fallen below 300. Furthermore, since the property only has 38 gaming tables, each of which features only five or six seats, there are usually “around 100 customers” who have to either “queue or stand to participate.”
Imperial Pacific has since lifted its share-trading suspension but says it is “seeking legal advice and reserves the right to pursue legal actions against unfounded report.”
ROTA REGULATORS LOSE LEGAL FIGHT WITH CASINO LICENSEE
Meanwhile, gaming regulators on another Marianas island have resolved their legal dispute with their lone casino licensee. In October, developer SNM Corp, which operates the Rota Resort and Country Club, sued the Rota Casino Gaming Commission (RCGC) for revoking SNM’s conditional casino license following a ‘special meeting’ in July.
The RCGC issued SNM a license in 2011, but SNM didn’t get around to paying its $400k license fee until 2013, which SNM believed marked the official commencement of the license’s five-year validity. SNM has yet to begin construction of its casino on the grounds of the country club.
SNM’s suit argued that it hadn’t been given the opportunity to attend the July meeting, meaning the RCGC had violated Rota’s Open Government Act and thus the license revocation was null and void.
On Wednesday, Judge Joseph Camacho issued a permanent injunction against the RCGC’s revocation order, and ordered the RCGC to issue an amended five-year casino service industry license that will expire on October 1, 2018. Both parties have agreed to withdraw all claims against the other.