IMPERIAL Pacific International LLC has petitioned the Superior Court to conduct a judicial review of the Commonwealth Casino Commission’s decision to suspend indefinitely its casino license.

Represented by attorneys Juan T. Lizama and Tiberius Mocanu, IPI wanted the court to set aside the commission's Commonwealth Order No. 2021-002.

The casino commission, in its order dated April 22, 2021, required IPI to pay penalties totaling $6.6 million while indefinitely suspending IPI’s gaming license. CCC likewise ordered IPI to pay a total of $18.6 million purportedly due under the Casino License Agreement and applicable regulation, and directed IPI to comply with previous orders issued by the regulatory agency.

IPI wants the court to determine whether the pandemic constitutes a natural disaster or force majeure. 

In its petition for judicial review, IPI stated that the CCC order was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and not in accordance with the law, as the CCC did not consider, determine or reasonably base that order upon the appropriate application of principles of force majeure under Commonwealth law.”

Moreover, IPI said the suspension of its license was unwarranted.

IPI said the proceedings on which CCC based the order “were held without observance of procedure required by law, as the CCC, in making its findings, improperly relied on material not in the evidentiary record, including without limitation the 2020 annual report of IPI’s indirect parent company.”

Petitioner did not have an opportunity to challenge, examine or rebut the conclusions drawn from the CCC’s consideration of such evidence, IPI stated.

Asked for an update regarding the request for judicial review, Lizama said: “We are not aware yet if counsel has appeared in Superior Court on behalf of the CCC in this appeal matter; once counsel appears on behalf of CCC we are hoping to meet with them, confer with them, and will move forward further under the CNMI rules of procedure.”

Reporter

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

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