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September 20, 2019

Pradyumna Kumar Samal, the former CEO of two Bellevue, Washington IT firms, has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison for his role in a long-running H1-B visa fraud scheme.  Samal's companies, Divensi and Azimetry, were employment agencies in the business of providing IT workers to major corporate clients.  Samal would submit fraudulent applications on behalf of foreign workers, claiming that they were being brought to the U.S. to perform a specific job, and instructing them to lie in their own applications, when, in fact, after being admitted, the employees would be benched and unpaid until Samal's companies were able to place them at actual client jobs.  In addition, Samal's companies failed to pay employment taxes on behalf of the foreign workers, instead diverting those funds to his personal use.  USAO WD WA

October 18, 2018

Jean Danhong Chen, an attorney, and Tony Jianyun Ye have been charged by the SEC with securities violations arising from their sale of EB-5 securities to Chen's clients, earning over $10 million in undisclosed commissions.  Chen and Ye operated an EB-5 regional center, Golden State Regional Center LLC, and advised Chen's clients to invest in the center’s projects while concealing their ownership interest. After learning of the SEC’s investigation, Chen and Ye allegedly backdated documents and scrubbed other business records to conceal their role in the alleged scheme.  SEC

June 13, 2018

Venkat Guntpally was sentenced to 30 months in prison following his guilty plea on charges of visa fraud and related crimes.  Guntpally admitted that employment staffing companies that he founded submitted fraudulent petitions to the U.S. government for foreign workers to receive H-1B visas, including by misrepresenting the companies at which the workers would be employed.  ND Cal

March 5, 2018

The SEC charged a Edwin Shaw LLC with illegally brokering dozens of investments by foreign nationals seeking U.S. residency. Between April 2014 and March 2017, Edwin Shaw solicited foreign nationals to invest in securities issued by a taxi and limousine company based in Queens, New York.  The investments were marketed to investors interested in applying for legal residency through the federal government’s EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, which provides a path to legal residency for foreigners who invest directly in a U.S. business or private “regional centers” that promote economic development in specific areas and industries. Edwin Shaw agreed to a cease-and-desist order and agreed to pay disgorgement of $400,000 plus prejudgment interest of $54,209.20 and a penalty of $90,535. SEC

February 2, 2018

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that the Miami-based businessman behind an alleged scheme involving investments in a Vermont-based ski resort has agreed to pay back more than $81 million of investor money that he used illegally. According to an SEC complaint filed in 2016 in federal court in Miami, Ariel Quiros allegedly misused more than $50 million in investor funds to purchase a different ski resort and to fund personal expenses such as income taxes and two luxury New York City condominium purchases. Investors were told their money would specifically be used for construction projects at the Jay Peak Resort and a nearby proposed biomedical research facility. Companies owned by Quiros also allegedly failed to contribute approximately $30 million in investor funds toward Jay Peak construction, with two projects going uncompleted. This jeopardized investors' investments as well as their participation in the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program under which Quiros and his businesses solicited the money. SEC

April 11, 2017

Argentine information technology and consulting firm Sistemas Globales S.A. agreed to pay $1 million to settle charges that it and its corporate affiliates, including U.S. affiliate Globant LLC, violated the False Claims Act and the Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act relating to Globant’s use of B-1 visas for certain of its foreign national employees. DOJ (NDTX)

January 17, 2017

The SEC announced fraud charges against Thomas M. Henderson, an Oakland, California-based businessman accused of misusing money he raised from investors through the EB-5 immigrant investor program.  The SEC alleges that Henderson and his company San Francisco Regional Center LLC falsely claimed to investors that their $500,000 investments would help create at least 10 jobs within several distinct EB-5 related businesses Henderson created, including a nursing facility, call centers, and a dairy operation.  But according to the SEC’s complaint, Henderson jeopardized investors’ residency prospects and combined the $100 million he raised from investors into a general fund from which he allegedly misused at least $9.6 million to purchase his home and personal items and improperly fund several personal business projects.  Henderson also allegedly improperly used $7.6 million of investor money to pay overseas marketing agents, and shuffled millions of dollars along the EB-5 business to obscure his fraudulent scheme.  SEC

December 28, 2016

Florida-based businessman Jason Adam Ogden has agreed to pay more than $1.2 million to settle charges that he misused investor funds intended to create U.S. jobs through the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.  The SEC alleged that Ogden, the CEO of a pair of smoothie and frozen yogurt franchises called Juiceblendz and Yoblendz, formed AJN Investments LLC to conduct an investment offering in conjunction with the EB-5 program which provides foreign investors a path to permanent residency when their investments create at least 10 jobs for American workers.  Investors were allegedly told that their money would help build and operate Juiceblendz and Yoblendz stores in strip malls and create a sufficient amount of jobs for them to qualify for an EB-5 visa and ultimately a green card.  But, according to the SEC’s complaint, Ogden changed his business model midstream without updating the offering materials, and focused on developing kiosks in sports arenas and university campuses rather than following through the construction of full-size stores.  Not only did this result in smaller-than-promised returns for investors, it also jeopardized their EB-5 program status because kiosks don’t stimulate the same job creation as full-size stores and construction projects.  The SEC further alleged that Ogden improperly siphoned off more than $1 million in investor funds for his personal use, making undisclosed cash transfers to his bank account.  SEC

December 27, 2016

The SEC charged California-based attorney Emilio Francisco with defrauding investors seeking to participate in the EB-5 immigrant investor program.  The SEC alleges that Francisco raised $72 million from investors in China, solicited through his marketing firm PDC Capital, to invest in EB-5 projects that included opening Caffe Primo restaurants, developing assisted living facilities, and renovating a production facility for environmentally friendly agriculture and cleaning products.  According to the SEC’s complaint, Francisco and PDC Capital diverted investor funds from one project to another and outright stole at least $9.6 million that was used to finance Francisco’s own business and luxury lifestyle.  SEC

June 2, 2016

The SEC announced fraud charges and an asset freeze against Charles C. Liu, his wife Xin “Lisa” Wang, and their companies Pacific Proton Therapy Regional Center, Pacific Proton EB-5 Fund, and Beverly Proton Center LLC.  The SEC’s complaint alleges that Liu and Wang raised $27 million for a proton therapy cancer treatment center in Southern California from 50 investors in China through the EB-5 immigrant investor program.  They touted in promotional materials that the project would create more than 4,500 new jobs and have a substantial impact on the local economy while giving foreign investors an opportunity for future U.S. residency.  But presently there is no construction at the proposed site after more than 18 months of collecting investments.  Meanwhile, Liu has transferred $11 million in investor funds to three firms in China and diverted another $7 million to his and his wife’s personal accounts.  SEC
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