Imperial Pacific loses director, details items taken in FBI raids


imperial-pacific-fbi-raids-computers-hard-drivesStruggling Saipan casino operator Imperial Pacific International (IPI) has lost one of its directors while its chief lawyer has detailed what the FBI took when they raided the company’s offices last year.

On Monday, IPI informed the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that executive director Teng Sio I had resigned his seat, effective immediately. Teng, who briefly served as IPI’s chairman in 2018, was quoted saying he had no disagreement with IPI’s board and simply wished to devote more time to his family and his other business interests.

Earlier this month, IPI learned that a lawsuit filed by one of its former contractors on the Imperial Palace Resort would be allowed to proceed. US District Court Chief Judge Ramona Manglona rejected an IPI motion to dismiss the suit by Pacific Rim Land Development, which claims to be owed $5.65m for work completed in 2018.

On Monday, Judge Manglona ruled in a favor of a different contractor, U.S.A. Fanter Corp, which claims IPI owes it $2.1m for work done on the Imperial Palace. Manglona ordered that Fanter could have a mechanic’s lien on the improvements done to the property, as well as on IPI’s interest in a 1.56-hectare land parcel. A trial on the matter has been set for June 24.

IPI’s inability to pay its contractors (or its taxes) most certainly can be traced to its financial misfortunes, which included a net loss of $508m in 2019 alone. After charging out of the gate, IPI has struggled for the past few years as the bottom fell out of the Asia-Pacific VIP gambling market and high-rollers refused to make good on their credit markers.

Meanwhile, IPI’s attorney has been spilling the beans on exactly what the Federal Bureau of Investigation was looking for when it staged raids on multiple Saipan locations last November. Among the locations targeted were IPI’s offices, as well as those belonging to an IPI lobbyist and the governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

The Guam Daily Post quoted a court filing by IPI’s new general counsel Joey San Nicolas saying the FBI took over 50 boxes of documents from IPI’s offices, documents the FBI has reportedly refused to return. The FBI also took around 160 digital devices, including computers and hard drives big and small, that weren’t returned until January 23.

San Nicolas made this claim to support IPI’s delays in producing discovery in a lawsuit filed by seven former construction workers who claim they were victims of forced labor and human trafficking at the hands of yet another IPI contractor. San Nicolas said the digital devices were “returned in a jumble, many of them unidentifiable as to their original source without a time-consuming data analysis.”

San Nicolas said IPI remains unaware of the “overall scope” of the FBI’s investigation, although the search warrants executed last November referenced a probe into possible wire fraud, money laundering and illegal campaign contributions.