By Bryan Manabat
Saipan-- Scandals continue to shadow Imperial Pacific International, which has been closed for three years.
Ji Xiaobo, former IPI casino project manager and son of IPI founder Cui Lijie, is in hiding after Chinese authorities identified him as head of a criminal syndicate, according to a Nov. 27 article published in Inside Asia Gaming, a magazine dedicated to gaming.
"It is time for the Commonwealth Casino Commission to do their job and revoke the casino license from IPI," said Saipan Rep. Edwin Propst, one of the most vocal critics of the casino.
According to Chinese court documents dated Nov. 24, Ji was "involved in the crimes of picking quarrels and provoking trouble, unlawful intrusion into a home, illegal debt, transporting others across the border and establishing a casino."
According to the gaming magazine article, the charges against Ji were related to his activities as an executive of Macau junket Hengsheng Group and as project director for IPI.
"Gambling is illegal in China," a former official who was involved in the Saipan casino industry told Pacific Island Times.
"Any Chinese citizen involved in gambling is subject to the law. Since junkets preyed on Chinese nationals and debts were arranged to be paid in China and other countries; the junket heads are the priority targets," he added, requesting anonymity.
The Chinese court sentenced 15 other people, including Ji's aunt Cui Limei, who was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in prison and fined RMB200,000 (US$28,170).
Ji will be tried separately.
According to court documents, the criminal syndicate was operated by Ji between 2008 and 2021. He sought to make illegal profits by setting up casinos outside of China, organizing people to use violence and threats to collect payments for gambling-related debts.
IPI closed its doors and ceased operations at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020.
Inside Asia Gaming reported that Ji has gone into hiding since the arrests of fellow junket operators, Suncity’s Alvin Chau and Tak Chun’s Levo Chan, in recent years. Hengsheng Group also closed shop after Ji’s disappearance.
The Commonwealth Casino Commission is seeking to revoke IPI's casino license after failing to pay various license fees.
Several local and federal court judgments were also entered against IPI, plaintiffs have requested and were issued writs of execution to enforce judgments against IPI.
Clear Management LLC, the court-appointed receiver, has auctioned IPI's gaming equipment and property. Currently. the receiver is auctioning more than 6,000 IPI liquor bottles.