By Scott Radway

For Pacific Daily News

KOROR, Palau (Oct. 14) - Twenty-three Chinese nationals flew to Palau on false promises of work, English language lessons and, in three years, the privilege to work in the United States, according to immigration officials who stopped them at the airport.

And they paid $5,000 each for the deal, said Joe Giramur, a senior officer at the Bureau of Immigration.

Giramur said at the Palau airport, the Chinese nationals provided introductory letters to the English Training Center. But Giramur said there is no such institution in Palau, nor did the Chinese have work permits.

Giramur said they were told that in three years they would be given Palauan citizenship and then be able to enter the United States for work, as Palauans can, under the country's special treaty with the United States. Palau, though, does not naturalize people who are not of Palauan decent under any circumstances.

Two groups appear possibly connected with the scam, Giramur said. The Shan Dong Yanhai Tshan Group, listed on the introductory letter, and the Beijing Wanji Education Consulting Co., which features pictures of Palau and false immigration information on its Web site.

"It's a shame to cheat their own people like that," Giramur said.

The 23 arrived from mainland China in September on three separate commercial flights - two through Manila and one through Taipei - and told authorities that one of the passengers on the third flight, Feng Yamei, was their contact. Yamei, they said, had accepted their payment of about $5,000 for the plane tickets.

Giramur said a tearful Yamei told immigration officials they were in Palau as tourists. Giramur said Chinese authorities have been informed of the situation and he expects Yamei to be arrested upon her return.

Two of three groups have been sent home. The third should depart as soon as seats are available, Giramur said. All had round-trip tickets.

October 14, 2003

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