Macau junket investor Imperial Pacific International Holdings Ltd said in a Hong Kong filing it would distribute cash vouchers totalling US$10 million among all locally born adults in the U.S. Pacific territory of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands if it wins a casino licence there.
According to United States Census Bureau data collected in 2010 – the most recent official numbers available – 53,833 people were recorded as living in CNMI, of whom 74 percent (39,836) are estimated to be aged 15 or over.
The money would be disbursed “within 60 days” with a further US$20 million to be given to a community chest fund “within 60 days of the applicant commencing construction works on its first hotel in the proposed integrated resort under the business plan,” said Imperial Pacific in its filing.
A further minimum US$20 million per year in cash would be distributed to the community chest after the first full year of operations of the first hotel in the proposed IR, adds the document.
Representatives of Imperial Pacific – formerly known as First Natural Foods Holdings Ltd – have been accused in a lawsuit filed with the Superior Court of the CNMI and obtained by GGRAsia of “improperly and illegally” providing “significant benefits to at least four CNMI senators in order to cause them to support passage of the Casino Law”.
The claims were made against Best Sunshine International Ltd – a wholly owned subsidiary of Imperial Pacific – in a case filed by Marianas Stars Entertainment Inc, Imperial Pacific’s rival for a casino licence on the island chain. It cites CNMI’s governor, secretary of finance and local lottery commission as defendants. The local government is seeking to develop the economy via gambling tourism.
Imperial Pacific said in its Hong Kong filing on Wednesday: “While the allegations are entirely unfounded, the applicant is ascertaining the basis thereof and seeking independent legal advice on the appropriate courses of actions to be taken.”
On June 19 Marianas Stars was granted a temporary restraining order by a Superior Court Associate Judge sitting in Saipan, the largest island in archipelago, and the place where a casino resort – described by the local government as requiring a “minimum US$2 billion” investment – would be located. Imperial Pacific said in its filing it had asked and been granted by the CNMI court, the right to intervene in the temporary restraining order case.
The order prevents public officials from either denying or approving the issuance of a casino resort licence. The order has since been extended until further notice.
The same court the following day denied a motion from another party and also against the government, for a more onerous measure, known as a preliminary injunction, which would have had the effect of freezing all government action on its casino policy.
Imperial Pacific, which has a stake in the profits of Macau casino VIP room investor Hengsheng Group, announced on Wednesday resumption in the trading of its shares in Hong Kong. The shares have been suspended on June 20 pending the release of information about the progress of its Saipan casino licence bid.
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"I am not going to speculate on what the [casino licence refreshment] tender requirements would be. I have full confidence and faith in the Macau government to treat everyone fairly"
Wilfred Wong Ying Wai
President and chief operating officer of Macau-based casino operator Sands China