Federal investigators served search warrants Wednesday at a San Gabriel Valley business and two homes in connection with a probe into an alleged $50 million high-end visa fraud scheme involving as many as 100 Chinese nationals.
Authorities raided the offices of the California Investment Immigration Fund in San Gabriel, along with a home in Arcadia and a townhouse in El Monte, according to a search warrant application unsealed Wednesday in Los Angeles federal court.
The suspects targeted in the investigation allegedly operated a scheme involving the EB-5 program, which offers foreign nationals legal residency in the United States in exchange for investments of at least $500,000 in U.S. businesses that create at least 10 full-time American jobs within two years.
“As a result of the fraudulent scheme, many foreign nationals were able to improperly obtain U.S. green cards through the EB-5 visa program, even though those foreigners did not in fact truly invest in U.S. businesses, nor were new American jobs created,” FBI special agent Gary Chen wrote in an affidavit.
A call for comment left at the business was not immediately returned. No arrests were expected today in the case, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.
Chen also wrote that some of the $50 million raised through the scheme was refunded to investors while their immigration applications were pending or used to buy personal homes for attorney Victoria Chan and her father Tat Chan, who ran the fund.
Prosecutors contend in the affidavit that several people who took advantage of the program to enter the United States were fugitives on China’s 100-most-wanted list. At least three of those fugitives were ultimately issued green cards under the program, even though their EB-5 petitions contained false information,” according to the affidavit.
The locations searched include the business office of CIIF — described as an office located on the main floor inside the San Gabriel Hilton Hotel building — two homes and Victoria Chan’s Porsche.
Investor funds allegedly were used for the father and daughter’s personal expenditures, “including buying multi-million-dollar homes for themselves or for Tat’s female companion, Fang Zeng, a Chinese national,” according to the affidavit.
Congress created the EB-5 Immigrant Investor program in 1990 to stimulate the economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. Critics say the program provides an expedited path for wealthy foreign investors to gain admission to the U.S.
—City News Service
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