Tinian Dynasty’s rescuers balk at paying former owners’ $75m fine


tinian-dynasty-fincen-fineGaming regulators on the island of Saipan will begin testing the gaming systems of Imperial Pacific International Holdings’ new permanent casino this week.

Imperial Pacific subsidiary Best Sunshine International (BSI) is preparing to open its new permanent Saipan casino, the Imperial Pacific Resort, early in 2017. On Wednesday, the Commonwealth Casino Commission (CCC) will inspect the Garapan facility to ensure its gaming offerings meet all regulatory requirements.

Eugenio Sousa, BSI’s VP of security, told the Marianas Variety that the property’s hardware and software systems were ready for the inspection. Sousa also said that security guards were now manning the property around the clock as the grand opening draws ever nearer.

Inspections of a different sort have plagued the in-development casino in recent weeks, leading the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to file a warrant to inspect the construction site after being turned away by the property’s contractor MCC International Saipan Ltd Co.

The OSHA inspector was responding to complaints regarding an unsafe work environment, including a number of amputations, falls resulting in serious fractures and the death of one employee from an apparent heart attack in December. There have been 79 construction-related medical incidents at the site since January, a significantly higher than average rate.

OSHA has authority in Saipan due to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands being a US territory. That allows the US Treasury Department to oversee CNMI casino operations, which led to a $75m fine levied against the operators of the Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino in 2015 for “willful and egregious” violations of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA).

Tinian Dynasty’s already struggling operators threw in the towel following the FinCEN fine, sparking a frantic search for new investors to take over the project. Tinian’s government thought it had found deep-pocketed saviors this summer, but FinCEN’s insistence that the new owners make good on that $75m fine has become a major stumbling block.

On Tuesday, the Saipan Tribune quoted Tinian Senate President Francisco M. Borja saying that Tinian Entertainment Corp (TEC) remained interested in the gaming venue but were balking at being made to pay for “somebody else’s problem.” Borja claimed TEC has made good-faith efforts at negotiating a settlement with FinCEN but “the federal agency is not budging an inch.”

Borja expressed concern that the longer the seemingly intractable dispute continues, the more Tinian Dynasty’s facilities are “becoming dilapidated. It would be costly renovating or improving it.” Despite the impasse, Borja expressed confidence that Tinian Dynasty would one day reopen.

Tinian Dynasty isn’t the only CNMI facility to have attracted FinCEN’s attention. Last month, media reports surfaced that FinCEN had turned its eye on Imperial Pacific’s highly profitable temporary casino but these reports have yet to be confirmed.