Chinese officials at Imperial Pacific International and MCC International Saipan, who agreed on the construction of the Grand Mariana Casino Hotel in Saipan, now face several criminal charges in federal court, which were officially announced earlier today.
Allegedly, Liwen Wu, also known as Peter Wu, Yan Shi and Jianmin Xu violated lawful labor practices during the construction of the hotel and casino venue. Federal prosecutors also allege the three executives transferred more than $24 million to the US states to promote their activity. The indictment unveiled earlier on August 4th, states that the contractors, including Imperial Pacific and MCC International, decided to hire Chinese workers instead of hiring US citizens or other foreign nationals that would have been eligible for doing the job.
During the federal court hearing, it became clear that since September 2015, Jianmin Xu and Liwen Wu have been pressuring the other contractor, MCC International, to speed up the work and threatened it with fines in case the deadlines of the project are not met.
As part of the license agreement inked between the CNMI government and Imperial Pacific, the company has been granted exclusive rights to establish a hotel and casino in Garapan. Under the conditions of the deal, the company would be forced to pay fines to the government in case the deadlines for the project’s phases were not met. As revealed in the indictment, feeling pressed by these terms, Liwen Wu and Jianmin Xu ordered MCC International to hire unauthorized workers for the job.
Contractors Aimed at Reducing Labor Costs and Evading US Laws and Taxes
According to the allegations unveiled by federal prosecutors, the defendants hired workers who had been residing in CNMI illegally and pushed MCC International towards importing Chinese workers using the CP program, which allows Chinese nationals to enter the CNMI for business or pleasure for a period no longer than 45 days. These people, however, are not allowed to work there.
Prosecutors said that the scheme was aimed at circumventing federal labor and immigration laws and reducing labor expenses. Furthermore, the defendants were alleged of tax evasion. As they reside outside the US, they are set to be arrested, arraigned and brought to court upon their return to the country.
Federal prosecutors have noted that the scheme of using Chinese workers in the construction included the provision of backstories of these people and even pairing them with female employees in China to pose as their spouses in return for holidays in the CNMI. Also, MCC International and the rest of the contractors pushed to hire Chinese workers for the hotel and casino construction were reimbursed by Imperial Pacific, with the company providing the plane tickets of the illegal workers and paying the rest of the costs.
On the other hand, the Chinese workers that were illegally employed in the construction of the Grand Mariana Casino Hotel in Saipan were paid lower wages in comparison to the ones that worked legally on the project. According to the indictment, the scheme lasted through at least March 2017 and involved the hiring of more than 600 illegal workers on the project. Many of these workers were not qualified and/or experienced enough to perform the job they were hired for.