SAIPAN UNIVERSITY TIED TO VACANT GUAM CAMPUS

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By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno and Mark-Alexander Pieper

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Jan. 8) - The man indicted by federal authorities on charges of receiving more than $500,000 in fees from 88 Chinese nationals, who were promised they would study and work in a golf-course-dotted Saipan university that doesn't exist, also is the majority owner of a Guam school that says it offers high school and doctorate degrees.

The Guam location of American International University is nowhere close to what's being advertised on its Web site: a tree-shaded campus, manicured lawns, a stately building accented with columns and brimming with happy students.

Instead, American International University's sign is plastered across two empty, mildew-smelling rooms in a Mangilao mall that also houses a video store, a Subway sandwich restaurant, a clothing store and a Department of Public Health and Social Services office.

American International University is owned by a Guam-registered corporation, which also carries the same name, and whose majority owner and president is listed as Soon Kyung Park, of Seoul, South Korea, the Guam articles of incorporation for American International University state.

On Dec. 29, Soon Kyung Park, also known by at least two other names - Piao Cun Jing and Dr. Park - was indicted this week in U.S. District Court on Saipan on charges of violating federal laws against transporting foreigners across state lines and in a foreign transport in the execution of an alleged scheme to defraud. The Chinese nationals arrived in Saipan in three groups via Asiana Airlines in September and October last year, court papers said.

Federal authorities on Guam and in Saipan yesterday said they could not comment when asked whether they also are investigating the Guam-based American International University.

A forfeiture allegation also was filed in the federal court in Saipan against Park to try to recover more than $500,000 in payments made by about 88 Chinese nationals who were promised they could study at the resort-style, golf-course-decked Saipan University, and then work there to recoup their expenses, court documents said.

Saipan University has no textbooks and has only one second-hand computer that works and rents office-type space in a building, an FBI affidavit states. There is no golf course in Susupe village where Saipan University is located in the Nauru building.

Each victim, from the mainland Chinese province of Jilin, paid the equivalent of $6,600 for what turned out to be false promises, the FBI affidavit filed in connection with the indictment states.

Park was arrested on Guam last month and has been transferred to Saipan, where he is being held without bail, Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Smith said Tuesday.

Guam-registered articles of incorporation state that the American International University was registered as a corporation with the Guam Department of Revenue and Taxation in November 2000.

Park put in $12,000 for the majority shares of the corporation, at $1 each, according to the articles of incorporation. The corporation had a total of $20,000 worth of shares, the record states. Park is listed as a resident of the South Korean city of Seoul.

The articles of incorporation state American International University will own and manage a school, operate an English language institute, promote vocational education and training, teach Oriental medicine and operate an Oriental medicine hospital.

The American International University Web site, in addition to its campus photos and course offerings, also posts an apology signed by Park and dated Aug. 29, 2003.

The apology addressed what Park called an "xpose of AIU on Seoul Broadcasting System."

"AIU graduates, students and those who are dedicate to AIU, I sincerely apologize on the recent broadcast by Seoul Broadcasting System," the statement signed by Park said.

"First of all, I would like to inform you that I was faced with difficulties in obtaining entry permits for Chinese students. This is ... why I was not or unable to come to Korea though this incident."

"The Chinese students visa was just issued today."

The statement explained that Park could not be in Korea to face the TV allegations because he was securing the Chinese students' visas for Saipan.

"Please understand why I could not be in Korea. I know that some students have a negative opinion for me not being in Korea," Park said. "But in order for AIU to operate successfully, It is very important to get Chinese students into Saipan University."

The statement also said a Maite location for American International University was damaged by Supertyphoon Pongsona in December 2002, so the location was moved to Mangilao, in the University Castle Mall.

"We accept full responsibility of the actions of American International University," Park said.

And, although American International University does not have U.S. accreditation, Park's statement added, "there are many good institutions in the United States that are not accredited."

"Our goal is to be the best university in the Pacific region," Park added.

The Mangilao commercial space that has the sign American International University was empty yesterday save for a large fan, a wheelbarrow, some shelving equipment and a few folded tables and chairs stacked on top of each other in a corner.

A strong mildew scent permeated the walls, and the large glass windows that enclosed the offices were covered with tattered newspapers. At what appears to be the entrance to the school, sheets of paper are posted near the door that list courses, including a doctorate course in "conversation" and a bachelor's course in "contemporary C.E."

The Mangilao building is owned by DeVilla Resort Development Inc. The building's management was unavailable for comment as of press time.

Eugene Santos, who works at the Public Health office at the University Castle Mall, said since the office moved into the building in November last year, the school's office space has been empty.

"There really hasn't been anything happening in there since we've been here. It's been pretty deserted," Santos said. "Last month there were some people there, but otherwise (it has) always been empty."

Don Pegs, a clerk at the neighboring Press Play video store, said last August he saw a group of people visiting the American International University's office space each day for about two weeks.

"I'm not sure if they were students, but they looked like tourists. A bus would come by each day and drop them off and they'd be there for a few hours, then they'd split. But that hasn't happened for a while," said the 18-year-old Pegs. "They used to have their cafeteria next to us, too. That closed in, like, October or November, but there hasn't been anything going on since then."

January 8, 2004

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

 

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