Saipan Casino Construction Raided by FBI Due to Undocumented Chinese Workers
When a construction worker at a Saipanese casino development died on site in late March, U.S. investigators raided the construction company’s headquarters. In the documents the FBI agents confiscated, they found evidence that hundreds of undocumented Chinese workers were a part of the project.
In late April, U.S. prosectors filed charges against individuals asscociated with two big Chinese contractors. The work on the Imperial Pacific casino face delays, while the New York Times is writing expose pieces on Imperial Pacific Casino’s undocumented workers.
New York Times Report on Imperial Pacific
A New York Times article this week spoke with Han Dong, a Chinese national who was recruited to Saipan to work on the casino. Mr. Han said recruiters told him he could work in Saipan for $2,900 a week, which is four times what he can make in construction in China — which is going through a construction boom.
When Han got to Saipan, he foound that working conditions were appalling. He had 12-hour shifts in the tropical heat. That might have been tolerable, but Han Dong found that the real pay for his work was only half of what was promised by recruiters for the Chinese construction firms. He had to pay half of his wages to the Chinese middleman who secured him the job.
Mr. Han told the NY Times, “They tricked us to come here.”
The Imperial Pacific Hotel & Casino’s development has everything a journalist would want. The story not only has ties to a controversial works program back in Mainland China, but to President Donald Trump’s former casino empire. Because of the President Trump angle, the non-traditional story of illegal immigration has a certain irony.
Ties to “One Belt, One Road”
One of the two Chinese construction companies, Suzhou Gold Mantis Construction Decoration, is tied to the “One Belt, One Road” government works program back in China. The “One Belt, One Road“ initiative was announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 as a framework and development strategy for China to expand its global economic reach.
Through two major initiatives, the “Silk Road Economic Belt” and the “Maritime Silk Road”, the development alliance now comprises 60 nations worldwide. It is contrasted against the now-defunction Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which the Obama Administration championed as an alternative to China’s growing economic hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region.
The One Belt, One Road policy receives huge attention back in China. The People’s Daily referred to no other issue more than Xi Jinping’s initiative in 2016. One can see why, because it is designed to integrate construction projects throughout Asia, Europe, and the Pacific region. The Imperial Pacific Casino shows that Chinese’s global economic initiative also concerns U.S. territories, though.
Donald Trump Protege Heads the Company
The project touches upon the casino empire of Donald Trump because Imperial Pacific’s CEO, Mark Brown, was a protege of the US president’s during his decade and a half at Trump Entertainment Resorts. Mark Brown recruited a dream team of American political advisers consisting of former senators, government, law enforcement, and intelligence officials. Those officials (Louis Freeh, Ed Rendell, Haley Barbour, James Woolsey), when asked out their ties, claim to know little about the operations in Saipan, a U.S. overseas territory.
Imperial Pacific Casino is the successor to a profitable temporary gaming venue, Best Sunshine Live, which operaters out of a shopping mall on Saipan. Best Sunshine’s VIP high roller gaming raised eyebrows throughout 2016, because its 16 makeshift VIP gaming tables generated $32 billion in action.
Chinese High Rollers Skip Town
The presence of Chinese high rollers itself is tied to the VIP market in Macau, which underwent 26 months of decline due to Xi Jinping’s crackdown on corruption. Chinese high rollers went somewhere, and the temporary casino on Saipin (a 5-hour flight from China) was one of those places.
Subsequent reports said that Best Sunshine Live faces cashflow problems, because the gaming venue offered “markers” or casino credit to the VIPs — and a high percentage of high rollers went back to China and never paid their debts. Thus, the profits off of $32 billion in turnover was a bit of an illusion.