Imperial Pacific Intl. Executive Accused of Being ‘Crime Boss’ in China

Controversial Casino Developer Designated “Head of a Criminal Syndicate” by Chinese Court

The developer behind the Imperial Pacific International (IPI) casino resort project in Saipan has been designated the “head of a criminal syndicate” by a court in China. Ji Xiaobo, who controls IPI along with his mother, Cui Lijie, has been accused of several criminal acts, including using violence and threats to collect illegal gambling debts and illegally invading homes, by the Beijing Municipal First Intermediate People’s Court.

Ji’s whereabouts are currently unknown, and he is being sought by Chinese authorities. He is believed to have turned his attention to Saipan after Beijing cracked down on Macau’s junket industry in 2014. The license for IPI’s project in Saipan has been suspended indefinitely due to the company’s failure to pay its annual license fee, which has led to financial troubles, labor violations, lawsuits, and federal corruption charges.

The court also found that from 2008 to 2021, Ji’s organization opened casinos overseas many times to “obtain illegal benefits.” This information emerged amid rumors that Ji is hiding in Tokyo, and that he is a fugitive from Chinese justice.

Ji had previously operated the Hengsheng Group, a Macau junket business, which grew significantly during Macau’s boom years. The court sentenced 15 members of Ji’s organization to prison terms ranging from eight years and six months to one year and eight months, including Cui Limei, Ji’s aunt and Cui Lijie’s sister.

This news comes after the convictions of other major junket operators in Macau, such as Alvin Chau of the Suncity Group and Levo Chan of Tak Chun Group, who received prison sentences for illegal gambling and criminal association. Ji is the latest to face criminal charges in a series of crackdowns by gaming authorities.

Ji’s story has attracted attention due to his relationship with Taiwanese actress and model Pace Wu and their public displays of wealth, including the installation of two crystal dragons in their home, reportedly worth US$130 million. With the uncertainties surrounding IPI’s casino project and Ji’s legal troubles, the future of the controversial development remains uncertain.