Construction firm Pacific Rim Group of Companies announced that it would finish construction on the Imperial Pacific Resort Casino in Saipan. The firm says it will need to hire more than 2,000 employees in order to finish the work on the controversial casino project.
Construction work on the massive Imperial Pacific Resort Casino was halted last year after agents, including from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, raided the construction site and found illegal workers. The investigation started when a Chinese worker, who also arrived illegally on the island, died on the site. Workers then protested, insisting to receive their wages and compensations for the bad conditions they were forced to work and live in.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that it reached a settlement with construction companies according to which four Saipan contractors will pay its workers $13.9 million in damages and back wages. However, hundreds of Chinese laborers may not receive their money as authorities did not explain how they would guarantee that, reported the Washington Post on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Pacific Rim Group of Companies said that it is now starting work on the casino site and in order to finish the construction, it needs to hire at least 500 local workers by the end of March. Its contract has been reviewed by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the company’s president Kieth Stewart claims. According to him, his firm and its subcontractors will operate perfectly safely and even within military standards.
Illegal Immigrants Are Just a Part of the Problem
The Imperial Pacific Resort Casino on Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, have been surrounded by controversy after the formal U.S. investigation. Construction workers were paid less than the minimum wage and much less than they were promised. They were hired and brought on the island by several companies contracted by Hong Kong’s Imperial Pacific International, the owner of the casino project.
The workers arrived on tourist visas without proper authorization to work. They were paid less and the working conditions did not comply with the U.S. safety and health standards because the Northern Mariana Islands are, in fact, a United States commonwealth in the Western Pacific. At the same time, President Donald Trump has announced a crackdown on visa fraud and illegal immigration.
Interestingly, Imperial Pacific’s former Chief Executive Officer Mark A. Brown, who stepped down from his position several months ago, was once responsible for running Donald Trump’s casino empire. This is not the only strange fact around this casino – last year, a temporary casino operation on the island generated a revenue of $32 billion, surpassing the world’s largest casinos several times.
Last month, the gambling regulator on the Mariana Islands faced allegations of corruption. It became clear that one of the members of the Commonwealth Casino Commission was the Governor’s uncle. This raised eyebrows and prompted a response by the regulator who denied the accusations.