Chinese casino developer Imperial Pacific has vowed that its Grand Mariana Casino Hotel & Resort on the Pacific Island of Saipan will be completed, despite delays, and admitted in its March earnings report that it was still seeking financial backing to finish the project.
Speaking to GGRAsia on the sidelines of the Japan Gaming Congress 2018 in Tokyo, Lu Hou Tsai, senior vice-president of operations for Imperial Pacific, said that his company was committed to seeing the project to completion.
“This project will go through,” Tsai said. “We are working diligently to get the hotel up, because once the hotel is up, that will further assist us in increasing our cash flow. Right now, we have over 1,000 construction workers on site, and our construction company is a US-based construction company.”
“OSHA [Occupation Safety and Health Administration of the US Department of Labor] has come in and given us the blessing, so we are 100 percent good to go as far as ramping up our construction efforts are concerned,” he added.
FBI Raid Turns Up Illegal Aliens, Labor Violations
Saipan, as part of the Northern Marianas Islands, is a US territory and under US jurisdiction. In early April, 2017, the casino construction site was raided by the FBI following the death of one of its workers.
The feds found widespread visa violation among the workers, most of whom had been brought to Saipan from China illegally. Three Chinese contractors were charged with importing and harboring illegal aliens and earlier this year were sentenced in a federal court to between six and 18 months in prison.
Investigators with the FBI’s Wage and Hour Division found construction workers were paid less than the minimum wage — if they were paid at all — and were not compensated for overtime.
The workers had become heavily indebted to their paymasters because they had been required to pay their airfare from China, along with “recruitment fees.” The division ordered four Chinese companies to pay back-wages of $13.9 million to over 2,400 employees.
Eyebrow-Raising VIP Revenues
Imperial Pacific’s operations on Saipan first came to public attention when Bloomberg reported that its temporary casino, Best Sunshine Live, was raking in almost eight times the average of Macau’s largest casinos on its VIP tables.
The company opened the casino in a small shopping mall in 2015, ostensibly to hire and train islanders as dealers in preparation for the Grand Mariana.
Imperial Pacific has sued Bloomberg for defamation over separate allegations of financial improprieties on Saipan, which it strenuously denies.