CASINO

Imperial Pacific’s tax records case moves to federal court

TAGs: Imperial Pacific, imperial palace, Lawsuit, revenue

Despite already being out in the wild, Imperial Pacific International (IPI) doesn’t want its financial information to be made public. The highly controversial — and sometimes unethical — company behind the Imperial Palace in Saipan has been fighting to have the data kept under wraps, arguing that it is private information. It ran to a judge, complaining that Ernst & Young (EY) had no right to release the data and the judge sided with the company until the case could be heard. It now appears that the case will make its way to federal court in an effort to determine what to do with IPI.

Imperial Pacific's tax records case moves to federal courtIPI is suing the Commonwealth Casino Commission (CCC) over the publication and use of the financial data. The CCC asserts that it needs the information to properly do its job, but IPI isn’t willing to be transparent. According to an article in the Marianas Variety, the Office of the Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), has filed a notice to move the suit to federal court due to concerns over jurisdiction.

IPI is arguing that its civil rights have been violated. Since CNMI is under the guidance of the U.S., U.S. laws apply. Marianas Variety points out that, according to U.S. Code Article 42, subsection 1983, “people are allowed to sue the government for civil rights violations when someone acting ‘under color’ of state-level or local law has deprived a person of rights created by the U.S. Constitution or federal statutes.”

With the move, the case is going to virtually have to start over from scratch, which appeals to IPI. Its attorney, and also its VP for special projects, Viola Alepuyo, said in a statement to the media outlet, “Since this case is moved to federal court, we will essentially be starting all over in presenting our case.”

It isn’t clear why IPI would be so adamant about keeping its financial records under wraps. If there is nothing embarrassing in the data, it should be willing to hand them over to allow the CCC to function properly. Perhaps it’s because the company reportedly owes millions of dollars to its suppliers and even to the government or perhaps it’s because it doesn’t want anyone to see how empty its wallet has become as it announces one delay after another for the Imperial Palace completion.

There’s also the chance that it doesn’t want anyone to see how much it has paid out in labor violations. Despite all the financial woes, millions of dollars owed, pending lawsuits and casino delays, it still managed to find time — and money — to begin construction on a second casino in the CNMI.

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