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|A model shown to potential immigrant investors in China in 2014,|
though not shown publicly in Brooklyn.
This watchdog blog, by journalist Norman Oder, offers analysis, commentary, and reportage about the $4.9 billion project to build the Barclays Center arena and 16 high-rise buildings at a crucial site in Brooklyn. Dubbed Atlantic Yards by developer Forest City Ratner in 2003, it was rebranded Pacific Park in 2014 after the Chinese government-owned Greenland Group bought a 70% stake in 15 towers. New York State still calls it Atlantic Yards. Contact: AtlanticYardsReport[at]hotmail.com
|A model shown to potential immigrant investors in China in 2014,|
though not shown publicly in Brooklyn.
|Source: Brookings Institution, February 2013.|
The number is now 646!
The individuals who come to the United States through EB-5 exemplify the American Dream.They choose to come here because we're selling residency cheap!
By providing capital at a time when American financial institutions have been hesitant to lend, EB-5 investors are filling a crucial hole, helping to accelerate our economic recovery, creating jobs and spurring development. They are rebuilding Main Streets and refining our most advanced technologies. The individuals who come to the United States through EB-5 exemplify the American Dream. They have the option to go anywhere in the world, but they choose to come here. They want to be American. They want their children to be American. And they want to invest right here in America.
Luckily, we have a program in place to help meet the needs of visionary entrepreneurs and developers: the EB-5 visa program. It’s one of the best ways we can attract foreign investments to support and grow our economy and create jobs for Americans. This innovative program was first created by Congress in 1990 to spur investments in the United States and it has been a critical tool since then to supplement our capital markets during the economic downturn.Note the critical comment from Mohammed Shaikh, who recruits investors for EB-5 direct investment projects, thus a competitor with regional centers:
I'm a Certified Fraud Examiner and have an MBA in Accounting, and can state with 100% confidence that this bill needs to be blocked as regional centers not only violate securities laws to illegally market and sell their securities in China without first obtaining CSRC [China Securities Regulatory Commission] approval, but also go ahead and commit securities fraud by failing to disclose material facts to investors. They knowingly receive illegally laundered funds and actually engage in massive conflict of interest.Another industry perspective
This bill does not do anything meaningful to protect EB-5 visa investors and ICE-HSI actually recommended that regional centers be shut down, while this bill is trying to permanently authorize the regional center program in the EB-5 visa category even though ICE has strongly recommended shutting down regional centers. See ICE memo at http://www.smartbusinessbroker...
"You’re hearing a lot about it and you’re going to hear a lot more, whether you like it or not," former USCIS [United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, which oversees EB-5] acting director Robert Divine said about the IG report Tuesday. "This thing is not going away. It is political fodder and it's unavoidable. It's too tempting for Republicans not to take advantage of the implications, the appearances in that document and suggest that a whole bunch of people on the other side are into giving each other political favors....The reality is there are Republicans who have gotten involved in EB-5 and sometimes those things didn't go all that well, and there'll be allegations back the other way.....And we'll be in the middle."
Divine addressed the issue as he spoke to hundreds of lawyers, investor recruiters, real estate developers and state and local government officials who play roles in the EB-5 program, which allows foreign investors to win green cards for themselves and their families by investing as little as $500,000 in a U.S. business or development project.
"Chairman Grassley is considering whether the EB-5 program should be extended," spokesman Taylor Foy said in a statement emailed to POLITICO, "If the program continues, it must have safeguards that ensure national security is not compromised and the job creating benefits of the program are realized. Any EB-5 reauthorization must include more stringent guidelines and reporting requirements that prevent abuse, address security concerns and provide a better understanding of how the program benefits our economy."Politico, ever conscious of horse-race journalism, notes that, despite the IG's report and the fallout, "the EB-5 program has a strong base of support on Capitol Hill" and state and local officials. (The article noted two Republican and one Democratic representative who spoke at the conference.)
"I think the EB-5 program should be changed where aliens are still able to get to the top of the green card list by investing in America, but those funds should be the ones to seed the infrastructure bank,” he said.Huge demand
He would also like to see the program shifted from Homeland Security to the Commerce Department.
“It is an economic development program,” he said. “They [Homeland Security officials] have no understanding of economic development projects.”
The United States has depleted its annual supply of EB-5 immigrant investor visas for the second year in a row after a huge wave of applications from rich Chinese.There are 13,000 pending applications, and the delay means that those with children approaching 21 face a risk when applications have delays. One main reason for leaving--along with going to a more stable society--is to get an American education for their children.
The State Department has announced that starting in May, no more spots will be available to Chinese for the rest of the U.S. government's fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.
Known as EB-5, the immigration program hands out green cards to foreigners who invest at least $500,000 and create 10 jobs in the U.S. The program, which caps the number of visas issued annually at 10,000, hit its annual limit for the first time last August.
This year, the program has reached the quota even earlier, reflecting the massive jump in demand among wealthy Chinese to move to the U.S., especially after Canada ended a similar program in 2014.
Mainland Chinese received 9,128 EB-5 investor immigrant visas last year, 46 per cent more than in 2013. Among the 10,692 investor visas the US issued last year, mainlanders received 85 per cent of them.Attorney Mona Shah also pointed to the elimination of competitors' programs:
On January 15, 2015 the Hong Kong government announced its immigrant investor program was indefinitely suspended. After Canada terminated its federal immigrant investor program in early 2014, US eliminated another fierce competitor. Experts predict that about 40,000 potential investors from HK will transfer to the EB-5 Program.
So here’s a potential solution: Since so many foreigners—too many, in fact—are willing to pay good money for the right to live here, Washington should up the charge and use some of the extra profit to fund better oversight. Right now, applicants have to invest $500,000 in a high-unemployment area, or $1 million elsewhere, to qualify for the program. By the standards of today’s global rich, that’s nothing. Why not double it, or even triple it? Let supply-and-demand work its magic.
To modify this proposal for the American scene, where there is a ceiling of 10,000 visas (for both investors and family members, combined), I would suggest the following: The INA should be changed to allow no more than 1,000 immigrant investors (and families) thus producing about 3,000-3,500 admissions, a potential reduction of 6,500 or 7,000 a year, an important gain in itself. (At maximum, the current system brings $1.5 billion a year to the United States.)Putting aside the issue of limiting the numbers, and recognizing the cost could vary, North's proposal makes sense because would eliminate all the middlemen--lawyers, regional center operators, migration agents--who make big money off the deal, and make it more likely the funds would serve the public interest.
The 1,000 immigrant visas would then be auctioned off with a reserve price of $4 million but with the winner paying a not-to-be-disclosed bonus above that....My suggestion is that the recipient should be the Social Security or Medicare trust funds, on the grounds that both need additional income and the politics of such a decision would be more attractive than simply putting the money in the Treasury.
Designate an oversight role for the Department of Commerce to supervise the adjudication of regional centers, standardize data and methodology, and better monitor program impact.Brookings did not, however, suggest raising the entry fee.
Create incentives for partnerships between regional centers and EDAs, thus aligning similar goals in mutually beneficial arrangements. Regional centers and EDAs often possess complementary resources and can leverage more funding and reduce risk for investors.
Generate high-quality, multi-variable public data on regional centers to facilitate better evaluation of the program.
The report, Selling Visas and Citizenship: Policy Questions from the Global Boom in Investor Immigration, examines the increasing mix of players and types of immigrant investor programs, their policy design, benefits and other considerations. During the past decade, the number of countries with immigrant investor programs has increased dramatically, and about half of all European Union member states now have dedicated routes. Demand has increased as well, with the U.S. EB-5 program, for example, nearing its annual cap of 10,000 visas this year for the first time, after two decades of relatively low uptake.(Emphasis added)
“Cash-for citizenship” policies have not been without controversy, however, as Malta experienced in 2013. Its plan to sell passports for 650,000 euros (later upped to 1.15 million euros in cash and investments) sparked an outcry in the country—as well as in Brussels, since a Malta passport grants immediate access to EU citizenship.
...The report explores the two primary models: (1) investment in private-sector assets, such as the business investment programs used in the United States, Singapore and the Netherlands, or the purchase of private property, as seen in Greece, Latvia, Portugal and Spain, and (2) providing funds to the government via non-refundable fees, low-interest loans or bonds, as occurs in the Caribbean as well as Australia, Malta and the United Kingdom.
The report argues that the clearest economic benefits come from programs that encourage cash payments to the government or national development funds, though it notes that these are the most controversial as they accentuate public concerns about whether it is appropriate to sell citizenship. Programs requiring private-sector investment—such as the U.S. EB-5 program—are promising in theory but raise some thorny compliance issues. In particular, the government may have little control over where and how the money is invested, as well as whether investments actually create the expected number of jobs.
Citing concerns over economic benefits, Canada earlier this year scrapped its federal program. And the United Kingdom’s Migration Advisory Committee has argued that the country is giving away residence rights in return for a government bond investment with no economic value. Australia, meanwhile, has adjusted its program to target investors who will make clearer economic contributions.
Over the past few years, international developers have entered the United States market and launched development projects that incorporate EB-5 funding as part of the project's capital stack. This past February, Shanghai-based Greenland Group broke ground on its mixed-use Metropolis project in downtown Los Angeles. And in Oakland, the Brooklyn Basin Project is a more recently announced joint venture between Signature Development Group of Oakland and Zarsion Holdings Group Co. Ltd of Beijing, China—both with EB-5 offerings.Greenland, of course, is also using EB-5 for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park along with Forest City Ratner, raising $249 million and now in the process of raising $100 million. (Forest City raised the first $228 million before its partnership with Greenland emerged.
As a result of this beneficial arrangement, many projects that have languished for years due to lack of funding are suddenly greenlighted for development. Communities that have long-suffered from a deficiency in domestic investment have the opportunity to become revitalized with foreign investor funds—only a small portion of which may expressly be from EB-5 investors. Judging by the number of trade missions made to China by local and state leaders seeking foreign direct investment for their communities, our elected officials would appear to agree.He portrays it as a win-win, with the Chinese development groups "achieving portfolio diversification in the United States," while U.S.-based developers not only "gain access to cheaper capital" but also--as I've noted--gain "a strong local partner to market EB-5 investments in China."
Far from being a cause of concern, international developers investing money and developing U.S.-based projects is a vote of confidence in the United States. As Senator Patrick Leahy noted, "[a]t a time when so much American investment is incentivized off shore, isn’t it nice to see a government program [EB-5] that brings foreign investment onshore?"Let me suggest another perspective. The heart of the EB-5 program is not job creation. The heart is selling visas cheap, providing profits for the developer/entrepreneur, and all the middlemen involved.
What are your thoughts on the EB-5 program, which offers a U.S. visa to overseas investors?I think it's now become almost a conventional way [to raise capital] for large-scale developers in America. They utilize EB-5 because it is quick money, and it improves the employment rate. For the L.A. project and also Pacific Park, we used that method. EB-5 investors, especially some of the 2 million customers who already buy from us in China, know our brand. So they are very confident we will deliver.As I wrote, it has become almost conventional because it's such a great deal. EB-5, however, does not "improve the employment rate." To quote Fortune:
A December 2013 study by the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general found that the government “cannot demonstrate that the program is improving the U.S. economy and creating jobs for U.S. citizens.” A February 2014 paper by the Brookings-Rockefeller Project on State and Metropolitan Innovation concluded that “knowledge of the program’s true economic impact is elusive at best.”But Chang did affirm that a Chinese company has an edge in marketing an EB-5 project to Chinese investors.
There are two reasons for that. First, the government is exceedingly generous in its employment tally. It gives EB-5 investors credit for all the jobs theoretically spawned by a project even when EB-5 money represents only a sliver of its financing. Second, for many mainstream ventures, EB-5 money isn’t really creating jobs—it’s merely saving developers money for projects that would be financed anyway.
8. Jonathan Rosen, Co-Founder, BerlinRosenIndeed, the relationship is raising eyebrows.
The consulting firm he co-founded, BerlinRosen, serves as the mouthpiece of Mr. de Blasio’s political operation, and is tightly intertwined with the forces of progressive politics in New York City—from the Working Families Party to labor unions to Ms. Mark-Viverito to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. But his client list also includes some of the biggest real estate firms in city, like Two Trees and Forest City Ratner. His wife, Debbie, served as deputy chief of staff to the indicted Mr. Silver and now works under the city’s budget director, Dean Fuleihan. His relationship with the mayor is raising eyebrows and questions among some advocates about the largely unregulated interactions between consultants and government.
28. Suri Kasirer, Founder, Kasirer ConsultingAmong the moguls
The founder of Kasirer Consulting has been the city’s best-paid lobbyist for nearly a decade. A Democrat married to Bruce Teitelbaum, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s chief-of-staff, Ms. Kasirer is known as both an effective advocate-for-hire for real estate interests and as a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential effort, former Comptroller William Thompson’s 2009 mayoral campaign and Mr. de Blasio’s 2013 bid for City Hall. She also sits on the ABNY [Association for a Better New York] steering committee.
37. Bruce Ratner, Founder, Forest City RatnerThere are lots of reasons to include Ratner, but the VP on the Rent Guidelines Board, I think, is fairly minor.
The controversial stadium he erected in Brooklyn won’t host next year’s Democratic Party convention, but the Forest City Ratner founder remains a major player on the city’s political scene. One of Mr. de Blasio’s closest friends and fundraisers in the real estate community, with ties stretching back to the latter’s days in the City Council, Mr. Ratner recently saw the mayor install one of his company’s vice presidents on the Rent Guidelines Board—which controls price increases on the city’s roughly 1 million stabilized apartments.
Bertha Lewis, Founder and President of The Black InstituteLewis of course is a partner with Forest City Ratner as signatory of the Community Benefits Agreement.
Ms. Lewis is a loud progressive with close ties to Mr. de Blasio—and she is unafraid to call him out when she feels he’s straying from the left wing that elected him.
The SEC is preparing sanctions against as many as two dozen immigration lawyers, people familiar with the matter said, for collecting deal fees from foreign investors trying to access the EB-5 visa program, which grants U.S. residency for $500,000 investments that create 10 jobs.And instead of quoting an industry cheerleader, which is typical with most reporting, Bloomberg found a skeptic:
The lawyers were prohibited from earning transaction fees because they weren’t registered as brokers, according to the people, who asked not to be named because the investigations aren’t public.
“It’s not been demonstrated that it does much to create jobs, it’s given rise to a lot of questionable schemes, and it’s very complicated,” said David Martin, a law professor at the University of Virginia who has served as general counsel to the Immigration and Naturalization Service.An investor alert
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's ("SEC") Office of Investor Education and Advocacy and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") are aware of investment scams targeting foreign nationals who seek to become permanent lawful U.S. residents through the Immigrant Investor Program ("EB-5"). In close coordination with USCIS, which administers the EB-5 program, the SEC has taken emergency enforcement action to stop allegedly fraudulent securities offerings made through EB-5.The announcement stated:
The SEC and USCIS are aware of attempts to misuse the EB-5 program as a means to carry out fraudulent securities offerings. In a recent case, SEC v. Marco A. Ramirez, et al., the SEC and USCIS worked together to stop an alleged investment scam in which the SEC claims that the defendants, including the USA Now regional center, falsely promised investors a 5% return on their investment and an opportunity to obtain an EB-5 visa.
In another case, SEC v. A Chicago Convention Center, et al., the SEC and USCIS coordinated to halt an alleged $156 million investment fraud. The SEC alleged that an individual and his companies used false and misleading information to solicit investors in the "World's First Zero Carbon Emission Platinum LEED certified" hotel and conference center in Chicago, including falsely claiming that the business had acquired all necessary building permits and that the project was backed by several major hotel chains.
Obtain copies of documents provided to USCIS.(Emphases added)
Request investment information in writing. Ask for a copy of the investment offering memorandum or private placement memorandum from the issuer. Examine it carefully and research similar projects in evaluating the proposal.
Ask if promoters are being paid. If there are supposedly unaffiliated consultants, lawyers, or agencies recommending or endorsing the investment, ask how much money or what type of benefits they expect to receive in connection with recommending the investment.
Seek independent verification. Confirm whether claims made about the investment are true. For example, if the investment involves construction of commercial real estate, check county records to see if the issuer has obtained the proper permits and whether state and local property tax assessments correspond with the values the regional center attributes to the property.
Look for warning signs of fraud. Beware if you spot any of these hallmarks of fraud:
Promises of a visa or becoming a lawful permanent resident. Investing through EB-5 makes you eligible to apply for a conditional visa, but there is no guarantee that USCIS will grant you a conditional visa or subsequently remove the conditions on your lawful permanent residency. USCIS carefully reviews each case and denies cases where eligibility rules are not met. Guarantees of the receipt or timing of a visa or green card are warning signs of fraud.
Guaranteed investment returns or no investment risk. Money invested through EB-5 must be at risk for the purpose of generating a return. If you are guaranteed investment returns or told you will get back a portion of the money you invested, be suspicious.
Unregistered investments. Even though a regional center may be designated as a regional center by USCIS, most new commercial enterprise investment opportunities offered through regional centers are not registered with the SEC or any state regulator. When an offering is unregistered, the issuer may not provide investors with access to key information about the company's management, products, services, and finances that registration requires. In such circumstances, investors should obtain additional information about the company to help ensure that the investment opportunity is bona fide.
Unlicensed sellers. Federal and state securities laws require investment professionals and their firms who offer and sell investments to be licensed or registered. Designation as a regional center does not satisfy this requirement. Many fraudulent investment schemes involve unlicensed individuals or unregistered firms.
Greenland’s top US executive and later its head of global development visited and approved. But Zhang Yuliang, Greenland’s chairman and president, would not sign the “Memorandum of Understanding” without meeting then Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The CBRE team arranged a City Hall meeting in 2014 and the MOU was signed.That explains the photo at right taken in October 2013, posted on Greenland's web page for news releases but not by the mayor's office, as I wrote last June.
The April 22nd Atlantic Yards Community Update Meeting (formerly known as Quality of Life) is being rescheduled for Tuesday, May 12th. We are rescheduling the Community meeting to ensure the most up to date information is share with the community. Just as a reminder all meetings will take place at: Just as a reminder all meetings will take place at:
@ 6:00 PM
Shirley Chisholm State Office Building
55 Hanson Place, 1st Floor Conference Room
Brooklyn NY 11217
The federal official who oversaw the growth of the program, Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, told lawmakers last year that any weaknesses in the program have been tightened. But whistleblowers told ABC News that little has changed since concerns were raised about visa applicants being approved despite being suspected of fraud, money laundering, and in one instance, possible involvement in selling child pornography.Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, expressed concern about the national security aspects of the program. ABC reviewed a report that indicated that more than 30 EB-5 "projects had at some point become the subject of a criminal investigation."
Mayorkas declined requests for an interview for this report, and when ABC News caught up with him, he ignored the cameras and questions altogether.
....Documents obtained by ABC News show that U.S officials had undertaken an investigation of a southern California shipping company, American Logistics International, and its Iranian-born owner, Alireza Mahdavi, for possible illegal shipments to Iran. Even as the investigation was underway, the company was re-certified by U.S. immigration officials as an EB-5 regional center, which entitles it to recruit foreign investors with the promise of a visa, and potentially, a Green Card. The company has raised millions of dollars from foreign investors, many from Iran.
Investment from EB-5 applicants has helped finance the construction of a New York sports arena and a Vermont ski resort and water park, help provide financing for a Hollywood movie studio, and even finance the construction of the FBI office building in San Diego.Actually, that part about the arena isn't true. (The video here actually showed the arena.) So ABC offered backhanded endorsement of the EB-5 investment in Atlantic Yards, which is hugely dubious.
Five different Homeland Security whistleblowers spoke with ABC News about a range of cases where visas were approved despite numerous red flags. They said objections were often ignored because the immigration program is so popular within the Obama Administration and with members of Congress from both parties.It's got bipartisan support because elected officials like to offer local developers/entrepreneurs cheap capital at no seeming public costs.
Some immigration groups have criticized the program as “nothing more than selling Green Cards.” Brent Wilkes, the executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, one of the largest Hispanic civil rights groups in the U.S. said it “short circuits” the immigration process, allowing foreign nationals “with enough cash” to leap ahead of legitimate applicants who lack the means.Of course it's selling green cards.
One of the oddities about the EB-5 program is that the U.S. government is giving out the green cards, but the entrepreneur who puts together the investment gets the money. This scheme seems inefficient and open to corruption. If our government really believes that it is a good idea to sell green cards, maybe we should drop the pretense that this is a job creation program. It might be more efficient to have the money go directly to the U.S. Treasury and reduce the deficit by billions of dollars a year. In fact, the U.S. government could auction off these green cards and perhaps raise even more money.The industry spin
Joseph noted the program is now so popular that the 10,000 visas allotted in 2014 for EB-5 investors were claimed in a matter of months, and he is lobbying for its expansion. The money has paid for popular projects -- a Brooklyn basketball arena, a California winery, a Vermont ski lodge, even a Hollywood movie studio – that have supported an estimated 42,000 jobs.That's tired rhetoric. How about: it's a win for the developer, especially since those jobs figures are so fuzzy.
“It's a win for the investor, who's seeking to get an immigration benefit, along with a return on their investment, along with the American worker who's able to get to work, thanks to the capital investment coming through the program,” Joseph said.
Hillary Clinton’s brother is involved. So are powerful California politician Willie Brown and Chicago political boss Richard M. Daley. One firm that helps wealthy Chinese gain access to the little-known immigration program even tried to recruit President Obama’s half-brother, Mark Obama-Ndesandjo.In New York, of course, some elected officials or former officials have been involved, including former Gov. David Paterson and Sen. John Sampson.
Most pointedly, the article misunderstands how the EB-5 program works. The article alleges that immigrant investors "can jump to the front of the line and obtain legal status to live in the U.S. for two years." This implies that immigrant investors take visas and a place in "line" from other immigrants who do not have the financial means to utilize the EB-5 program. This is simply inaccurate. Each visa category is distinct and separate from other categories, so the assertion that EB-5 applicants "leap ahead of legitimate applicants who lack the means," is simply not true.He's right, but also not quite the full story. EB-5 applicants leap ahead simply because they're wealthy, and can show their money is legit and have found an investment that purports to create ten jobs. That doesn't ring right.
As with any governing body, fraud typically stems from individuals, not the system, and the EB-5 program is no more systematically prone to exploitation than any other visa program. The program is not perfect, but the overwhelming evidence shows that right now, it is working.And he suggested legislation would improve it:
That being said, there are several pieces of legislation in the pipeline that would drastically improve it. The most notable bill is the American Entrepreneurship and Investment Act of 2015, co-authored by Congressmen Jared Polis (D-CO 2nd District) and Mark Amodei (R-NV 2nd District). The bi-partisan bill would make the regional center program permanent, and also set more rigorous standards for regional center operators and administrators. Legislation like Congressmen Polis' and Amodei's bill makes the program more secure and efficient, and would drive more money into the American economy and create more jobs for American workers.Other than setting some new standards regarding those involved in regional centers--a rather modest lift--the bill is an industry wish list. It endorses gerrymandering and does nothing about the job-counting issue.
I explained to the review board that we did not feel that the project was creating new jobs, and that [LA Films IV] [was] just using the money to replace other funds available to Time Warner, including cash reserves and their $5 billion revolving credit facility with Citibank. So the EB-5 money was not really resulting in any new projects that would not have otherwise been produced in the absence of EB-5 capital.That dubious use of lower-cost immigrant investor funds to replace existing funds is exactly what happened with Atlantic Yards, and when it replaces bridge financing, it's considered A-OK.
The Director stated that he believes that nothing is more important to the United States at this time than the creation of jobs for U.S. workers. This will inform how he views every classification. So, if the regional center claims that it will create jobs for U.S. workers, he will read the statute and the [regulations] as generously as possible. For other classifications, such as H-1 B, where there are statutory provisions designed to ensure that U.S. workers are protected, he will read the statute and [regulations] more narrowly. The director noted several times that these cases are affiliated with "people of influence" and "people with money" and that he has several more of these on his radar. It seemed clear to me that since "people of influence" have raised other cases to him (or a higher authority at DHS or the White House), the AAO will be requested to defend our draft I-924 and EB-5 decisions to the Director in the future, prior to issuance.(Italics added by IG, bold added by AYR)
In the past, this Department has sought unsuccessfully from Congress a number of statutory enhancements to the program’s integrity, including added legal discretion to deny or revoke cases when necessary, authority to exclude people with criminal backgrounds from participating in EB-5 regional centers, and authority to require regional centers to certify compliance with our securities laws. The EB-5 regional center program is up for statutory renewal again this year. I urge Congress to work with the Department to strengthen the security and integrity of the program.The latest scandal
The FBI is investigating a former top military aide to three U.S. presidents and his firm over allegations it bilked foreign investors out of millions of dollars by touting his White House ties and making promises of quick U.S. Green Cards to raise funds for a giant hotel complex, ABC News has learned. Five years after an elaborate ground-breaking ceremony in New Orleans, there is only a vacant lot and investors say almost $16 million has disappeared.The Noble Outreach project, let by retired Air Force Col. Timothy Milbrath, is among more than 30 EB-5 projects under some form of criminal investigation. In this case, there's a civil lawsuit filed against Milbrath's company by investors who claim the firm took their money but they didn't get green cards.