Imperial Pacific International (IPI) has finally made the first intelligent decision it has made in about seven years. The casino operator attempting to hold onto the Imperial Palace in Saipan in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) announced that it has accepted the resignation of its now-former chairwoman and executive director, Cui Li Jie. It’s not likely that the move will have an immediate positive impact on the company, but it’s at least a step in the right direction, given that even her own former lawyer, Juan T. Lizama, once referred to her as “ignorant” about casino operations and said she was incompetent to lead a US-based business.
IPI Tries to Right the Ship
Cui’s departure comes as she is facing interrogation by a US District Court over the company’s continued failures; mainly, its inability to pay its debts and financial obligations and its slave-like labor conditions. IPI has already had its license suspended and continues to be subjected to additional scrutiny. If Cui or the IPI board believes that extricating her from the situation will help save the company, that isn’t likely, though, as she can still be forced to testify.
Cui reportedly resigned because of “personal time constraint,” but she doesn’t have to worry about income. She is the owner of Star Ltd, which controls 60.69% of IPI. Even though the company reportedly doesn’t have any money, it will either be able to rebound with Imperial Palace or sell the assets. In either case, Cui will have money coming.
The former chair is also likely to maintain strong ties through the company’s remaining board members. Taking her place is Xu Zhongxiang, who was previously the company’s executive director. He has been appointed to the Board of Directors and, because of his working relationship with Cui, will probably keep her in the loop.
IPI Still Unable to Pay Debts
IPI was just ordered to pay seven former construction workers a total of $5.4 million, although it’s unlikely they will see the money anytime soon, if ever. The company lost its license in April because it didn’t pay the $15.5-million license fee that was due last August or the $3.1-million regulatory fee that was due in October. It also hasn’t paid $20 million in obligatory payments to the community benefit fund in the CNMI and hasn’t put up $2 billion in capital for its Saipan project as stipulated years ago.
Cui reportedly doesn’t have any casino business experience, but she knows how to game the system. She is alleged to have repeatedly ducked attempts to serve her with subpoenas as the investigation into the company’s activities has dragged on and not complying with court orders. As the company still faces courtroom scrutiny, she is trying to get an extension to push off any ultimate decision after Lizama resigned as her attorney at the end of last month. Cui said that she plans on explaining herself once she is able to retain a “responsible and competent” lawyer.