Imperial Pacific owner to unload 5% stake in troubled casino firm


imperial-pacific-casino-owner-selling-sharesThe owner of troubled Saipan casino operator Imperial Pacific International (IPI) is selling off a major chunk of the company amid an FBI money laundering and corruption probe.

On Tuesday, IPI informed investors that the company’s controlling shareholder Inventive Star Ltd was selling 7b IPI shares, representing around 4.9% of the company’s issued share capital, to a company identified only by Chinese characters 進英投資有限公司.

Inventive Star, which held a 63.47% share of IPI prior to the transaction, will now hold a 58.58% stake in IPI. Inventive Star is owned by Chinese national Cui Li Jie, who also serves as an IPI executive director and, as of January, occupies the chairperson’s seat.

This is the second major IPI share sale Cui (pictured) has attempted in a little over four months, having tried to unload 14b IPI shares to Guan Lian Capital Holdings in July. But that announcement cited the same pre-transaction share percentage as Tuesday’s filing, suggesting that the profit warning IPI issued one month later may have proven to be a deal-breaker for Guan Lian.

In May, IPI announced that it had received a $500m cash infusion from a mysterious Japanese firm (GCM Ltd) although very little in the way of additional information has been forthcoming on this front. The company has also demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to pay its bills on time, suggesting all is not well in the Imperial Palace.

Cui’s latest selloff comes as IPI finds itself the subject of an FBI probe of suspected money laundering, fraud and illegal political contributions that has also ensnared Ralph Torres, governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. IPI has previously been linked with paying millions of dollars to Torres’ family members, often in connection with land deals.

On Monday, local media quoted an FBI receipt for property indicating that this month’s raid on IPI’s offices resulted in the seizure of 34 computer hard drives, 15 laptops and a variety of documents, including vendor payment checks, CNMI tax payments, petty cash records, journal entries and lease payments.

The lease payments possibly relate to Legend Realty, a local company whose offices were also raided on November 8. Legend is reportedly owned by Ron Li Anderson, who was named in the FBI warrants, but who apparently left Saipan two days before the raids. A Saipan Tribune source claimed that Anderson, who formerly worked for IPI, is currently in China.