SAIPAN UNIVERSITY FOUNDER INDICTED

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By Gaynor-Dumat-ol Daleno

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Jan. 7) - For dozens of people from Jilin province in China, the offer showed promise: For $6,600 each, they could obtain bachelor's degrees at a Saipan university, juggle studies with work and earn paychecks in American dollars to recoup their expenses.

And their dreams were to take off at a resort-style educational institution with a golf course, dubbed Saipan University. Trouble is, there is no university in Saipan with a golf course. There is no real university in Saipan, period. And on the promises of work, foreigners allowed entry into Saipan to study generally are not allowed to get jobs under local immigration law.

The alleged false promises are stated in court papers filed in the federal indictment against South Korean Soon Kyung Park, also known as "Dr. Park." Park is the founder and a board member of Saipan University, the indictment states.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Smith, who is prosecuting the case, said Park is in federal custody and is being held without bail.

Park was arrested last month on Guam where court proceedings took place to transfer the defendant to Saipan where he's been indicted in the U.S. District Court, Smith said.

A federal grand jury indictment was handed down on Dec. 29 against Park, court papers show.

An excerpt of the indictment states that Park "fraudulently induced approximately 88 persons to travel from the People's Republic of China to Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, through materially false promises regarding the education and facilities available at Saipan University.''

Each person paid about 55,000 in Chinese currency, renminbi, or about $6,600 each at recent exchange rates, an affidavit filed in court by FBI Special Agent Douglas E. Small states.

Altogether, the amount involved in the alleged scam exceeded $500,000, which federal authorities want to recover from the defendant through a forfeiture action if the defendant is convicted, court papers state. The defendant's interests in accounts at Bank of Guam and Bank of Hawaii branches in Saipan are identified in the indictment's forfeiture allegation.

Saipan University rents space in the Nauru building in Susupe, a village without a golf course. It was licensed by the CNMI government's Board of Regents and was a successor to another entity called "Tinian University." The tiny island of Tinian several miles from Saipan does not have any institution that has the capability to grant bachelor's degrees.

The affidavit states that the Chinese nationals were recruited to Saipan University through newspaper and television advertisements in Jilin, China.

The alleged Chinese victims traveled to Saipan via South Korea and entered Saipan in three groups between September and October last year, the affidavit states

January 7, 2004

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

 

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