Sen. Chuck Grassley is launching his own inquiry into an allegedly fraudulent EB-5 investor center, requesting more information Thursday from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security about a California attorney and her father accused of helping fugitives get visas through the program.
According to his letter to DHS head John Kelly, Grassley asked why Victoria Chan and father Tat Chan have not been arrested or charged in connection with FBI allegations that they worked with Chinese nationals — including people on the nation’s “100 most wanted” list — to get visas through a $50 million investment project.
“It’s alarming that this information was not discovered before these individuals were permitted to enter the United States. Unfortunately, this is not the first time criminals have been discovered using the EB-5 program to enter the United States,” Grassley said in the letter.
The Chan duo persuaded more than 100 Chinese nationals to invest more than $50 million with the California Investment Immigration Fund LLC and related companies, according to a recently unsealed affidavit by Gary Chen, a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigations.
The EB-5 program provides green cards to foreign residents who invest at least $1 million in the U.S., or $500,000 if the investment is in a rural area or place with high unemployment, known as a "targeted employment area."
Instead of investing the funds into American businesses, the Chans’ investment center either refunded the money to the investors while their petitions were pending or stole millions of dollars to indulge in million-dollar homes and other big-ticket purchases, the affidavit says.
The father and daughter had collected the funds for a mixed-use hotel and restaurant project in Indio, California, but there was no visible construction on the site in December, and no construction permits had been approved for it, according to the FBI agent.
Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, raised questions about whether the center had been given serious scrutiny. He asked for the investment center’s business plan and related documents, plus center audit information and immigration details of the defendants. He also asked if U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would plan to revoke the green cards issued to investors in connection with the project.
The Republican senator previously backed a bill that would end the EB-5 investor program and reallocate the employment-based visas allotted to it among the four remaining employment-based visa classes. The legislation was introduced in January by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., amid other attempted reforms of the controversial program, which is set to expire later in April after two reauthorizations.
- New York
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