Best Sunshine had a soft opening for a temporary casino with six baccarat tables in July 2015. This casino, named Best Sunshine Live cost US$25 million to build. It is located in Saipan's DFS T-Galleria Mall. In May 2016, Best Sunshine started targeting residents and tourists of Guam by offering charter flights between the two islands. In 2015, Imperial Pacific opened Best Sunshine Live casino in Saipan, which relaxed its casino laws the year before. Best Sunshine Live has been the subject of a number of lawsuits since opening. The Saipan Tribune newspaper reported on Monday that the Lottery Commission of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands had given an Imperial Pacific International unit called Best Sunshine International Ltd “the go-signal Friday to open its ‘live’ gaming facility at the T Galleria, allowing the casino to hold a soft opening on. Bloomberg the Company & Its Products Bloomberg Anywhere Remote Login. To be entering a Best Sunshine office on Saipan on March 30. Pacific exclusive rights to open casinos there.
U.S. federal agents raided the offices of Imperial Pacific International Holdings Ltd. in the US Overseas Territory of Saipan last week. Imperial Pacific is the new name of the casino once known as Best Sunshine Live.
The raid, which included agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), included the collection of financial documents from the IPIH Ltd.’s office. Imperial Pacific, a Hong Kong-based company, told Bloomberg News on Tuesday it had not heard of the raid, despite it taking place days before.
Imperial Pacific denied any wrongdoing which would lead to a raid.
The casino has been a source of speculation since its opening in an old shopping mall in 2014. Named Best Sunshine Live at the time, the casino was designed to lure Chinese high rollers to a casino in territories belonging to the United States — a safe jurisdiction. Saipan, an island of 50,000 people closer to China than Hawaii, is a part of the Northern Mariana Islands, which have been administered by the U.S. authorities since the latter stages of World War II.
Imperial Pacific Holdings Casino Venture
Imperial Pacific Holdings originally was named First Natural Food Holdings, but was renamed in 2014. The company’s founder, Yeung Chung-lung, was charged by Chinese authorities with embezzlement.
Eventually, Cui Lijie and her son, Ji Xiaobo, became the owners of Imperial Pacific Holdings back in Hong Kong. They were the financial backers of the Best Sunshine Live casino, which was founded by Mark Brown, a former member of the Trump Organization who once helped Donald Trump run his casino empire.
Best Sunshine Live’s Advisory Board
The original Best Sunshine Live casino had good connections. Under Mark Brown’s leadership, Best Sunshine Live had an advisory board which read like a who’s who of American politics. One member of the advisory board was James Woolsey, former director of the CIA and onetime national-security adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. It also included former FBI director Louis Freeh.
Ed Rendell, a former governor of Pennsylvania and ex-chairman of Democratic National Committee chairman, sat on the council. So did Haley Barbour, former governor of Mississippi and ex-chairman of the Republican National Committee chairman. Ed Rendell said in an interview he was paid $5,000 a month to advise the project on American political and legal matters, but otherwise knew little about the business.
March 2017 FBI Raid
Such high-tone consultants did not protect Best Sunshine Live from a March 2017 raid by US authorities. By that time, work on a permanent casino-resort was nearing completion. On March 23, 2017, a worker fell from scaffolding and died while the Imperial Pacific Casino was being completed.
This led to a raid by the FBI to the work site, because of allegations that Imperial Pacific was using Chinese nationals who had been shipped to Saipan illegally for the construction of the casino. Despite the raid, the new casino-resort had its soft opening in June 2017.
$2 Billion in Revenues (Not Turnover)
By that time, Best Sunshine Live/Imperial Pacific Casino had received months of press about its high revenues. According to one 2016 report, Best Sunshine Live had generated $2 billion of revenues in one year’s time.
It was hard to verify those reports, especially because much of the revenue appeared to be on paper. Best Sunshine Live issued a form of casino credit called “markers”, which US casinos use and Chinese casinos (in Macau) do not. Markers are a kind of IOU that high rollers sign to the casinos. In many parts of the USA, gamblers who play for $10,000 or more qualify for markers.
Best Sunshine Live Casino Markers
The problem in Saipan is many of the Chinese high rollers went back home to China and never paid back their casino credit. Chinese mainland courts do not force players to pay back casino credit, which is why Macau casinos never allowed markers.
Instead, they developed a system of junket operators — third party trip organizers who provided credit to VIP high rollers. Junket operators allegedly used Chinese organized crime (triads) to force high rollers to pay back their gambling loans, which is why the junket operator industry collapsed in the wake of Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption crackdown in Macau in late-2014 and 2015.
Because Best Sunshine Live could not force many of its customers to pay back their IOUs, Cui Lijie is said to have had to lend the business $100 million at one point to keep it afloat. Due either to the casino’s financial troubles or its raid by the FBI, Imperial Pacific Holdings Ltd. came under new leadership in August 2017: Henry Cheang.
Henry Cheang Denies Wrongdoing
Henry Cheang is the current CEO of Imperial Pacific. He denies wrongdoing, but also denies knowing of an FBI raid on Imperial Pacific Casino last week. No details have emerged about the raid, as an anonymous source gave Bloomberg News the scant details which have been published at the moment. Whether the raid has to do with illegal immigrant workers or financial wrongdoing is unknown, but BOC will report on those details as they emerge.
|CEO: Henry Cheang , Majority owner: Cui Lijie|
|Parent||Inventive Star Limited|
|Subsidiaries||Best Sunshine International|
Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited (SEHK: 1076 is a Chinese investment holding company. It was founded with headquarters in Hong Kong and originally named First Natural Foods Holdings until it was renamed in May 2014. It is a subsidiary of Inventive Star Limited.
First Natural Foods was first listed on the main board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on 11 February 2002. It was principally involved most aspects of the food business, including frozen and functional food products. Trading for the group was suspended in 15 December 2008 and provisional liquidators were appointed on 7 January 2009 for restructuring. The liquidators were discharged on 4 September 2012 and trade sharing resumed the following day.
In 2013, the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) took the company's founder and former chairman Yeung Chung-lung to court for alleged embezzlement. The SFC accused him of withdrawing HK$84 million from its account in December 2008.
In December 2013, First Natural Foods announced that it would buy the Macau-based junket operator Hengsheng for HK$400 million. In 2013, First Natural Foods reported a profit of only 1.25 million. In March 2016, Imperial Pacific announced that it would sell its non-gaming subsidiaries to focus on its gaming businesses. In August 2016, Imperial Pacific reported that it had a half-year net profit of HK$837.3 million (US$108 million).
In March 2018, Bloomberg reported that Imperial Pacific's offices in Saipan were raided by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Imperial Pacific denied that the FBI had raided its offices or buildings.
Imperial Pacific was Trump inaugural Gala sponsor.
Best Sunshine International
Best Sunshine, a subsidiary of Imperial Pacific International Holdings, develops and operates casinos, hotels, and restaurants in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). As of June 2016, it is reportedly the largest taxpayer in the CNMI, paying US$27.8 million in business gross revenue tax.
Best Sunshine International Saipan
In August 2014, Imperial Pacific International was granted a 25-year license to build and operate a casino on Saipan with an option to extend the license for another 15 years. Best Sunshine originally planned to spend US$3.14 billion and operate 2,229 hotel room. but increased the budget to US$7.1 billion the following month to accommodate plans to operate more than 4,200 hotel rooms and 1,600 gaming tables. Imperial Pacific raised US$99.8 million in December 2014 to fund these projects.
Best Sunshine had a soft opening for a temporary casino with six baccarat tables in July 2015. This casino, named Best Sunshine Live cost US$25 million to build. It is located in Saipan's DFS T-Galleria Mall. In May 2016, Best Sunshine started targeting residents and tourists of Guam by offering charter flights between the two islands. The Best Sunshine Live casino opened on 31 March 2017, though construction for the attached resort continued.
The main casino, named Grand Mariana Casino Hotel and Resort was constructed in Garapan in 2016 and 2017. During this time, the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality (BECQ) gave Best Sunshine multiple fines for discharging wastewater into Garapan's lagoon and violating work hour constraints. Ancient human remains were discovered on the construction site, which will be re-interred some time after construction is finished. The main casino was originally scheduled to open in December 2016 and expected to cost US$550 million. The resort's casino had a soft opening on 6 July 2017.
On 23 March 2017, one of Imperial Pacific's Chinese construction workers fell off a scaffold and died. This led the Federal Bureau of Investigations to search one of Imperial Pacific's offices and make an arrest. On 15 February 2018, Bloomberg Businessweek published an investigative report on the circumstances surrounding the death of this construction worker. An attorney for the Torres Brothers law firm which represented this worker said the report omitted several facts about the case. Imperial Pacific disputed all allegations of wrongdoing and sued Bloomberg for defamation. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Department of Homeland Security investigated the case and charged five individuals with harboring undocumented workers.
After Typhoon Yutu, Imperial Pacific opened its Saipan casino with limited operations from 2–15 November 2018. Citing damages from the typhoon, Imperial Pacific shut down this casino from 16–18 November, and then resumed operations.
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