It seems Imperial Pacific International (IPI) continues to be unable to fulfill its legal and financial obligations responsibly. This won’t come as a surprise to anyone who has been following the antics of the company, which has repeatedly shirked its duties and tried to circumvent established laws. The latest twist in the drama that has been underway for the past several years comes via the Department of Public Works (DPW) of the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), which has ordered IPI to halt work at the Imperial Palace “immediately.”
According to Marianas Variety, the DPW issued its notice today. The news follows rumors from a few days ago that the department could bring the Imperial Palace construction to a halt over IPI’s failure to comply with certain building safety code regulations, which IPI stated were nothing more than “administrative” issues. However, with the DPW ordering work to be stopped, it appears that there may be other issues going on, as well.
The DPW states that IPI is in violation of “Building Safety Code, Public Law 6-45, 2 CMC §7101.” It added, “Pursuant to IBC §§107 & 107.4 and NMIAC §155-10.1-145. Suspend all work from Levels 3-14 until shop drawings and revised plans (i.e. amended set of construction documents) are submitted to and approved by the building safety officer.” Even more disturbing is another remark made by the department, which reads, “Pursuant to IBC §1703. Suspend all welding work until special inspectors are on board and approved by the building safety officers.”
IPI can’t resume construction until the two items are addressed satisfactorily, and any refusal to comply could result in civil penalties or fines. Only the DPW’s Building Safety Division has the authority to rescind the order, according to the DPW statement.
IPI has said that the issue stems from a “lack of certain paperwork,” although that doesn’t necessarily explain why special attention is being placed on the welding activity. The company added that it has “submitted hundreds of drawings since [the] inception of construction and this is an issue where a few requested documents weren’t submitted by our 3rd party engineers. IPI’s construction team is actively working with engineers of record (EORs) and inspectors. The EORs are going to prepare and submit [the] documents to DPW for review soon.”
It’s almost as if IPI goes out of its way to create problems for itself. While it’s having to deal with this latest issue, it is still facing a number of other problems, including the failure to pay its casino license and a lawsuit over unpaid bills to contractors who worked on Imperial Palace. It is still on the hook for millions of dollars in outstanding government fees and bills, and doesn’t have any internal means to pay them.
One of those lawsuits involves Pacific Rim Land Development, the largest contractor on the project, which has suggested selling IPI assets to cover the debt. IPI didn’t like that idea and suggested that the courts allow it to deposit $6 million in a CNMI bank while the case continues along its path – it’s currently under appeal by IPI. That money would come from an investor, and would be given to Pacific Rim if the contractor wins. If not, it would be returned to the investor. This might be the only bit of good news IPI can enjoy, as the courts have agreed to the idea, provided IPI makes the deposit by today.