Genting Malaysia is weighing its options for getting back MYR1.77 billion ($427.5 million) worth from promissory notes issued to a Massachusetts tribe for the development of an integrated resort in the state.
In a filing, Genting Malaysia said, “The Group is currently deliberating the appropriate course of action by working closely with the Tribe to review all options available for the Group’s investment in the promissory notes as well as its recoverability.”
Last September 7, the U.S. federal government, through the Department of Interior (DoI), had issued a decision stating that the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe would not be granted the disputed land in trust for developing the First Light Resort & Casino in Taunton, South of Boston. Genting Malaysia had issued about $274 million in promissory notes with interest rates of 12% and 18% per year.
Construction of the resort was hampered by local residents who said the 2015 awarding of the 300 acres for putting up a casino was a misinterpretation of the Indian Reorganization Act, which had been clarified by a 2009 Supreme Court ruling. In Carcieri vs. Salazar, the court had ruled that the federal government can only have a land in trust for tribes recognized as of June 1, 1934, when the Indian Law was enacted. The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe was only federally recognized in 2007.
Genting Malaysia said among its recourse was a piece of legislation pending in the U.S. Congress, “which, if passed, will entail the DoI to reaffirm the land in trust for the benefit of the Tribe.” House Bill 5244, sponsored by Rep. William Keating, was filed last March “to reaffirm the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe reservation.”
The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) issued a statement on the DoI decision, saying “the Tribe presented evidence that its lands and people were included in various federal reports documenting Indian tribes at various points in history. However, the decision rejects this clear evidence of federal jurisdiction by inexplicably claiming that these federal reports… do not constitute ‘exercises’ of federal jurisdiction.”