CHIEF Judge Ramona V. Manglona of the District Court for the NMI has disclosed a familial relationship with an associate attorney at Joyce Tang’s Guam law firm, Civille & Tang PLLC —  a potential conflict of interest for the proposed receivership of Imperial Pacific International LLC.

At a status hearing update on Monday, Judge Manglona said she is related to Dean Manglona, an associate attorney with Tang’s firm.

Tang, who appeared in court via Zoom, said she would screen Dean Manglona from any work in the case, if selected as receiver.

Tang is also the federal-court-appointed trustee of the CNMI Settlement Fund.

Judge Manglona has found IPI, IPI Holdings Ltd. and IPI chairwoman Cui Li Jie in contempt for violating the consent judgment with the U.S. Department of Labor, and for not paying their current employees for over two months.

The judge ordered IPI, IPI Holdings Limited and IPI chairwoman Cui Li Jie to pay the current employees’ remaining back wages, the balance of the consent judgment at $1,182,793, and to create an escrow account to cover the future payroll of employees in the amount of $800,000 by March 1.

The judge told IPI it will be placed in receivership and its assets liquidated if it fails to comply with her order.

At the status hearing, IPI was represented by attorney Michael Dotts while IPI chairwoman Cui Li Jie was represented by attorney Juan Lizama.

The two lawyers expressed no objection to the nominated receiver and agreed to proceed with the receivership.

For her part, the judge acknowledged concerns regarding a potential expansion of the amount owed under the receivership as well as a potential conflict of interest in nominating Tang as a receiver.

Dotts told the court that IPI would not be able to pay approximately $600,000 in wages owed to workers who have been repatriated.

He also informed the court about the potential legal issue involving the CNMI government’s tax lien on IPI’s CNMI assets that may require more liquidation than originally contemplated.

Because of these concerns, Judge Manglona issued the following order:

(1) The parties shall submit any and all objections to Tang’s nomination as receiver by Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at 3 p.m.

(2) Tang shall submit any amendments to U.S. Department of Labor’s proposed terms of receivership no later than Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at 5 p.m.

(3) Defendants shall produce all relevant payroll information and supporting documents pertaining to back wages owed after the 2019 consent judgment totaling approximately $600,000 by Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at 5 p.m. Should these documents need to be redacted, defendants may submit this information over the counter with the clerk’s office on the third floor. The clerk’s office may electronically issue the documents to all relevant parties including the court, USDOL, and Tang, then annotate the submission in the docket on this matter. Defendants shall file the redacted version thereafter.

(4) Defendants shall prepare and produce a complete list of assets no later than Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at 5 p.m.

(5) The stop work order at the IPI hotel-casino construction site originally imposed on Jan. 21, 2021 shall continue until further order by the court.

The USDOL is represented by attorneys Boris Orlove and Charles Song.

Last week, Song  submitted to the federal court the name of Joyce Tang as the proposed receiver of IPI.

Judge Manglona said the hearing will resume on March 5 at 8:30 a.m.

Reporter

Bryan Manabat studied criminal justice at Northern Marianas College. He covers the community, tourism, business, police and court beats.

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