Donald Browne quietly stepped down as IPI CEO in December

Donald Browne has told a federal court that he stepped down as the CEO of Imperial Pacific International in early December, though this was not revealed publicly. Browne had only assumed the office six months ago.

Browne’s predecessor as IPI CEO was Mark Brown, who also resigned in December, though in his case it was December 2019.

After the position remained unoccupied for the first half of 2020, the CNMI Commonwealth Casino Commission demanded that the firm appoint a CEO who had authority to speak for the company, which led to the five or six months of Donald Browne’s leadership. His tenure was mainly notable for his frequent apologies for the company being unable to meet its financial obligations, additional lawsuits against the company, and more recently by the distinct possibility of his arrest for contempt of court.

In essence, becoming CEO of IPI appears to have become something of a poisoned chalice, giving the holder of the office insufficient power to resolve the many crises that the firm faces, while also possessing sufficient symbolic authority to become a prime target of those with outstanding grievances.

In the most recent maneuver, Browne responded to a US Department of Labor request that IPI and its primary officials be held in contempt of court for violating a previous consent judgment and for not paying their employees for over two months by declaring that he resigned as CEO on December 3.

“My resignation was to be effective two weeks later on December 17. However, I extended my term to December 22 so that I could represent IPI at one last Commonwealth Casino Commission public hearing,” Browne said.

Browne remains an IPI employee at a lower level, presumably hoping to escape designation as a “primary official” of the company.

IPI has been facing multiple lawsuits throughout Browne’s tenure as CEO, but it appears that the US Department of Labor’s re-entry into the fray in mid-December, declaring that unpaid IPI employees are facing a “humanitarian crisis,” may be a threat of a different magnitude.

Browne does not seem to have given any reasons for his resignation as CEO, nor is there any information about who will be his successor, if anyone.

Related Articles

Imperial Pacific International

IPI lawyer warns receivership could lead to full liquidation

Imperial Pacific International lawyer Michael Dotts has advised the federal court that putting the firm’s local assets into receivership could lead to a “full liquidation.”

CNMI lawmakers demand IPI foreign workers be paid before departure

CNMI House of Representatives Gaming Committee Chair Edwin K. Propst (D-Saipan) and his colleagues are reiterating their demand that Imperial Pacific International’s foreign workers must be paid at least three-quarters of the salary that is owed to them before they are repatriated.

IPI claims ignorance, powerlessness, and poverty before US courts

In a series of court hearings, Imperial Pacific International has made various excuses as to why it has been unable to meet its commitments. The lawyer for Chairwoman Cui Li Jie claims that she is ignorant of the US legal system and is, in any case, powerless to fulfill the court’s demands. Attorney Michael Dotts, meanwhile, is arguing that IPI simply does not have the funds to pay what it owes under the consent judgement. However, in another case dealing with sexual harassment, former CNMI Senator Ray N. Yumul appears to have begun his work representing IPI as its CEO.

IPI likely to fail to meet Saipan casino construction deadline

Imperial Pacific International has a February 28 deadline to finish building the Imperial Pacific Resort but, as that date draws closer, it is now clear that IPI won’t be able to meet that deadline—a situation that Commonwealth Casino Commission Executive Director Andrew Yeom finds “alarming.”

IPI employees receive six weeks of back pay

Employees of Imperial Pacific International in Saipan have received six weeks of back pay that they had been owed, partially alleviating the crisis and clearing the way for the company to resume the construction of its facility ordered to halt by the court.

IPI found in contempt of court and ordered to stop all construction work

The US District Court for the NMI has ordered Imperial Pacific International to cease operations and all construction work for a week—except for the department working on payroll and security—after ruling in favor of the US Department of Labor in its petition to find IPI and Chairwoman Cui Li Jie in contempt.

IPI may hire former CNMI Senator as CEO

Imperial Pacific International has reportedly reached a verbal agreement with former CNMI Senator Ray N. Yumul to become its next CEO.
CNMI Turkish Workers

CNMI Representative appeals on behalf of stranded IPI workers

CNMI Representative Edwin K. Propst (D-Saipan) has taken up the cause of Imperial Pacific International’s stranded workers.
Ramona Manglona

Arrest of IPI executives may be on the cards

District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona Manglona is getting tougher with senior executives of Imperial Pacific International, warning that unless Chairwoman Cui Li Jie and former Chief Executive Officer Donald Browne show up in her court on the morning of January 21, she may issue arrest warrants against them.

Almost half of IPI construction force must leave CNMI this month

Almost half, or 88 of the over the 200 construction workers of Imperial Pacific International, will have to leave the CNMI by the end of this month because their H-2B visas are expiring.