SAIPAN – The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has allowed the public disclosure of Imperial Pacific International’s income tax information.

Ninth Circuit Judges A. Wallace Tashima and Miland D. Smith signed the order on Aug. 26, denying IPI’s appeal of the District Court of the NMI’s Aug. 6 order denying the casino investor’s petition for a preliminary injunction against the Commonwealth Casino Commission.

In a statement on Tuesday morning, House Minority Leader Edwin Propst said:

“I am elated and most grateful to the Ninth Circuit for making the right decision. IPI lost their appeal with the Ninth Circuit and there can no longer be any delays in my (Open Government Act) request. The documents I requested...should be available for public inspection without any delay by the Commonwealth Casino Commission. I have emailed CCC Executive Director Ed Deleon Guerrero and CCC counsel Mike Ernest asking for access to all the documents I requested through my [Open Government Act] request. A huge thank you to [District Court for the NMI] Chief Judge Ramona Manglona, [Assistant Attorneys General] Mike Ernest, Ben Petersburg, and Chris Timmons, the CCC, and all who supported my [Open Government Act] request. The people win.”

In an interview, House Committee on Gaming Chairman Ralph Yumul said if IPI won the case, “there would be no point in having a gaming committee in the House.”

He said his committee was created to review necessary legislation that addresses issues in the gaming industry.

The committee, he added, works closely with the casino commission as it regulates the industry.

If the committee is deprived of the information it needs from IPI, Yumul said they wouldn’t be able to do what they are supposed to do.

The lawsuit stemmed from an Open Government Act request filed by Propst on June 13.

He asked for: (1) the 2017 and 2018 audit reports for IPI/Best Sunshine prepared by Ernst & Young; (2) all business gross revenue tax payments made by IPI/Best Sunshine to date, with amounts and dates; and (3) all corporate income taxes paid by IPI/Best Sunshine.

Assistant Attorneys General Benjamin Petersburg and Michael Ernest represented CCC and its executive director while attorneys Viola Alepuyo and Philip Tydingco represented IPI. Attorney Mathew Gregory represented IPI’s subsidiaries, Grand Marianas (CNMI) LLC and Imperial Pacific Properties LLC.