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California tribe pays Sealaska for aborted casino

Posted: Thursday, January 02, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Sealaska Corp. has been repaid for its investment in a San Pasqual tribal casino in California, a tribal official said.

The tribe was able to pay Sealaska under a debt restructuring package but would not reveal terms of the deal, said Dave Toler, member of the San Pasqual casino management committee.

''We've paid off the loans,'' Toler told the Anchorage Daily News.

Sealaska told shareholders last month that it expected to receive $14.7 million plus interest, penalties and fees. The company didn't disclose the total amount.

Sealaska also told shareholders in a newsletter that it is receiving monthly payments from San Pasqual's Valley View casino near San Diego and will retain a some gaming profits for seven years after the debt is repaid.

Sealaska invested in the Southern California casino in 2000 in an effort to diversify its income sources that had previously been dependent on logging and other investments.

Sealaska financed construction of a 41,000 square-foot casino that would eventually be replaced by a luxury resort near Escondido.

But San Pasqual defaulted on loan payments to Sealaska and the permanent casino was never built.

The recent loan repayment is good news for Sealaska after it reported losing $21 million last year and $122 million in 2000. Those losses were attributed to mining, plastics and other investment performance.

Sealaska also invested $40 million toward the failed Alaska Native Wireless, a partnership with two other Native corporations to provide wireless service in major U.S. cities.

The three Native corporations were able to recoup their investments after that deal was bogged down in lawsuits.

Sealaska executives could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

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