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By Moneth G. Deposa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Dec. 5) – Bridge Capital (USVI) LLC, which plans to invest US$12 million in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, will open its Saipan office in January to start its international lending and consulting services in the commonwealth.

Shawn Scott, a top executive of the company, yesterday said their Saipan office would be in the Bank of Hawaii building.

[PIR editor’s note: According to PIR news files, the Tinian Casino Gaming Control Commission allowed Bridge Investment Group LLC to begin the US$55 million first phase development of its estimated US$150 million casino facility on Tinian back in August, and now seeks to hire new inspectors to accommodate the anticipated rise in gambling activity. It has been reported that Shawn A. Scott of Bridge Capital lending company has invested "in more than a dozen gambling ventures over the past decade but has been denied or failed to obtain gambling licenses in five states where regulators found evidence of financial mismanagement and hidden partnerships." The 2004 article said that Scott has been involved in gambling-related lawsuits in the U.S. mainland, particularly in Washington D.C.]

"We are set to open in January in time for the start of the company’s operation," he said in a telephone interview.

Bridge Capital’s primary business is arranging high-yield, short-term, real estate-secured loans in excess of US$1 million for customers who cannot borrow from traditional lending sources due to time constraints, risks, or complex arrangements.

The company said that up to US$2 million in capital will be available for qualified Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands borrowers, but added that it will not be in competition with local banks.

In February, Scott said the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands government had already approved their qualifying certificate, which will provide them a 100 percent rebate of income tax for 25 years, a Business Gross Revenue Tax abatement of 100 percent for 25 years, an excise tax abatement of 100 percent for 25 years, and an earnings tax abatement of 100 percent for 25 years.

Bridge Capital was also granted a 100 percent rebate on individual taxes based on Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands-sourced income.

Asked if they have plans to open more businesses on Saipan, Scott said although "that’s a possibility, we have no concrete plan at this time."

He added, "Any extension or plans for other investments on Saipan will be known after the January opening."

Founded in 1995, the company is now headquartered in the U.S. Virgin Islands with an initial asset portfolio of US$10 million in loans.

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