Saipan regulator urges IPI to step in

Saipan’s casino regulator is urging Imperial Pacific International to get involved in the recent fiasco involving illegal workers at IPI’s casino construction site, Marianas Variety reports.

During a board meeting on Wednesday at the Joeten-Kiyu Public Library, the commissioners told IPI legal counsel Charles McDonalds that the controversy was tarnishing the company’s reputation.

Commissioner Alvaro Santos told IPI to talk to their contractors who, he added, should be in compliance with the law.

“Talk to your contractors and subcontractors,” he said to McDonalds.

“Even if it’s the contractors that are being negligent, they will always implicate IPI and blame IPI, and that’s not good as it will hurt the reputation of the company and…the government…. Take action, and calm down those people. Tell the contractors to follow the provisions of the contract. You have to be concerned also because this is a tiny community.”

Last week, more than 50 Chinese construction workers gathered in a protest demanding to be paid their wages after MCC International Saipan, their employer, was charged for illegally hiring workers on tourist visas.

Santos said the recent debacle would tarnish the reputation of the island, and its chances at an increase in the CW (CNMI-Only Transitional Worker) cap.

“You should go out of your way to remind the contractors to comply with the law because the Chinese waiver might also be affected by this negative issue,” he said to McDonalds.

McDonalds said they’ve already had a meeting with the contractors who assured IPI that the workers will be paid and repatriated.

“We are very concerned about the actions of our contractors, and have asked them what’s going on with the concerns of the protesters. They assured us that their employees are getting paid and they are working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and [the Department of Labor] to address all the employees’ concerns and send them back home,” he said.

In related news, McDonalds noted the company is still looking to open the casino portion of Imperial Pacific’s resort soon.

When asked about progress, he said: “We don’t know the extent of any delay, but we are working on extending the license agreement and that’s our plan right now.”

He added they will meet the Lottery Commission on April 24 to discuss their request for an extension of their temporary casino facility in DFS Galleria, and they are also waiting for the approval of their permit by Department of Public Works in order to open the casino portion of the resort.