The Imperial Pacific Casino project in Saipan finds itself in trouble once again after the Federal Bureau of Investigation searched the company’ss offices following the death of a construction worker. This death was unrelated to the fire that took place in early March, but has unearthed a number of new controversies, including human trafficking, for Imperial Pacific International Holdings Ltd.
On March 23, a 43-year-old Chinese man fell to his death from a scaffold at the site of Saipan casino. This prompted the initial FBI investigation, which has reportedly led to a discovery of a cabinet full of Chinese passports belonging to construction workers without work credentials. Michele, Ernst, spokeswoman from the FBI’s Honolulu field office, reported that a search was conducted and an arrest was made in response to the recent death. Furthermore, the investigation is related to a federal violation of the workplace visa system and a most recent report claims there are up to 250 undocumented workers.
The documentation, which has brought about suggestions of systematic human trafficking, was found in an office used by Imperial Pacific. What’s more, this is just one of the many issues Imperial Pacific has faced since it began construction; The U.S. Justice Department is also investigating the casino for suspicions of possible money laundering. A former executive brought on these initial accusations in December, and it has since been reported that a district court judge scheduled a settlement for the case. That being said, the VIP table revenues at the temporary casino are turning heads as they continue to bring in more than those at Las Vegas.
Imperial Pacific shares an office with the contracting company who is conducting the work for the new casino, MCC International Saipan Ltd. The President of the contracting company, Zhang Mengxing said in a recent interview that company managers flew to Saipan following the FBI search to meet with Imperial Pacific and deal with the issue. “This is an issue both Imperial Pacific and MCC need to handle together,” Zhang said.
Although the investigation took place at the offices of Imperial Pacific International it appears as if the blame is going to fall with the contractors, MCC International Saipan Ltd. A statement issued by Imperial Pacific international claims the FBI investigation is not related to their group or employees, but rather the external construction team. They went on to say that none of its employees have been arrested and they have received no notice of investigation.
This is just one of the many set backs that have postponed the opening of the Imperial Pacific Casino, which was originally set to open in late January. In the meantime, the nearby starter casino is operating at a small shop front in a duty-free mall. Despite its humble surroundings the casino handled nearly $3 million in bets in March.
Casino Commission Executive Director, Edward Deleon Gurrero, insists that the investigation will have no effect on the construction and eventual opening of the casino. “My understanding was there was a search warrant issue for the contractors, not Imperial Pacific International,” he said.