Imperial Pacific International (IPI) doesn’t want its financial situation to be made public. The company is building the Imperial Palace in Saipan, a casino resort that has dealt with one delay after another, and has faced multiple lawsuits over how the construction project has been managed. When Ernst & Young (EY) recently completed its audit of the company’s financial health and was preparing to release its findings, IPI began screaming for the details to be kept under wraps. IPI brass even went to a judge to request a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the release of the information, which it was granted. However, it appears that the TRO was too little, too late, as the entire report has already been leaked by several sources.
IPI and the Commonwealth Casino Commission (CCC), which oversees gambling activity in Saipan, as well as all of the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), are in court discussing IPI’s claims that the financial information is private and shouldn’t be released. The CCC has argued that the financial stability of a casino operator is under its purview as regulator and issuer of gambling licenses.
The financial data has made its way to social media platforms such as Facebook and others, where it can be viewed by virtually anyone. In fact, even CNMI Representative Christina Sablan uploaded it to her Facebook page. As a result, the CCC says that ruling against the release of the data at this point is irrelevant and that a court decision could not force those that posted the information to take it down.
It’s not clear who first leaked the information – it could have been one of a large number of individuals with access to the data, even someone from within IPI. The CCC was able to gain access via the Open Government Act (OGA), similar to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in the US. The financial report reveals that IPI owes millions to the people of the commonwealth and also highlights other important details about how the company is performing.
The financial report has now been entered as a public document as a result of the ongoing court battle to not make it public. As the case marches on, both sides will have to go back to court on July 8, where Superior Court Judge Kenneth Govendo will continue to listen to the irrelevant arguments.