Indian-Origin Person Charged In US Green Card Investment Fraud

WASHINGTON (TIP): US markets regulator SEChas charged an Indian-origin person of running afraud investment scheme, wherein Chineseinvestors and other investors were allegedly dupedof at least USD 150 million (over Rs 800 crore) inhope of green-card American residency.The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)said in a statement that a district court has grantedit a “temporary restraining order and asset freeze”against 29-year old Anshoo Sethi and two of hiscompanies involved in running this fraudulentscheme, as its investigations continue further.As per SEC’s charges, Illinois-based Sethi createdtwo entities, namely A Chicago Convention Center(ACCC) and Intercontinental Regional Center Trustof Chicago (IRCTC), and fraudulently sold morethan USD 145 million in securities and collectedUSD 11 million in administrative fees from morethan 250 investors primarily from China.

Sethi and his companies duped investors intobelieving that by purchasing interests in ACCC,they would be financing construction of the”World’s First Zero Carbon Emission PlatinumLEED certified” hotel and conference centre nearChicago’s O’Hare Airport, SEC said.”Investors were misled to believe theirinvestments were simultaneously enhancing theirprospects for US citizenship through the EB-5Immigrant Investor Pilot Program, which providesforeign investors an avenue to US residency byinvesting in domestic projects that will create orpreserve a minimum number of jobs for USworkers,” it added.

According to the SEC’s complaint filed in USDistrict Court for the Northern District of Illinois,the EB-5 program enables foreign investors topossibly qualify for a green card if they invest USD1 million (or USD 500,000 in a Targeted EmploymentArea with a high unemployment rate) in a projectthat creates or preserves at least 10 jobs for USworkers, excluding the investor and his or herimmediate family.

SEC’s complaint further said that 29-year-oldSethi claimed to have “over fifteen years ofexperience in real estate development andmanagement”, while the project’s developer wasprojected as having experience of more than 35years of experience despite being set up only in2010.Sethi and his companies have also been accused offalsely boasting to investors that they had acquiredall the necessary building permits and that severalmajor hotel chains had signed onto the project.They also provided falsified documents to USCitizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) — thefederal agency that administers the EB-5 program –in an attempt to secure the agency’s preliminaryapproval of the project and investors’ provisionalvisas.

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