Nasty Ghosts of the EB-5 Program Linger

Investor-visa program still dead six months after it sunsetted

By David North on December 23, 2021

Although the main part of the EB-5 (immigrant investor) program died six months ago, nasty reminders of its numerous scandals continue to make headlines, such as these in Washington State, Florida, and California, respectively:

In debt for millions, a con man’s ex-spouse is ready to talk

Fla. Developer Denies Defrauding $100M From EB-5 Investors

Former Chinese official admits to money laundering scheme tied to purchases of Monterey Park real estate

In the Washington State case the ex-wife is Tami Agassi, sister of the former tennis player, and the con man is Lobsang Dargey, the former Tibetan monk recently released from prison for his massive EB-5 misdeeds.

The Florida case involved a legal dispute between 100 Chinese EB-5 investors and Nicholas Mastroianni, a developer, whose name, in turn, has been linked with those of both Jared Kushner and Michael Cohen. The Chinese say that their money has been misused.

In the California case another ex-spouse played a role. The man involved, Jianjun Qiao, had stolen millions from a grain storehouse in China, fled to Sweden where he was jailed pending extradition to the States, and then was jailed in the U.S. Then, to quote the City News Service story:

Qiao’s ex-wife, Shilan Zhao . . . pleaded guilty . . . to conspiring with her former husband to falsely portray them as still married and lying about the source of Zhao’s foreign investment, which was required under the EB-5 immigrant investor program. . .

The courts move slowly in some of these cases, providing headlines from time to time long after the initial scandal was discovered, thus offering a ghostly view today of EB-5 scandals past.

Meanwhile the industry still hopes for a revival of the main part of the program, that related to the pooling of investments by middlemen regional centers. This, presumably, is to be managed by adding a clause to a must-pass piece of legislation, which how it has been handled in the past. Just the other day such a “must pass” law was passed, to lift the federal debt, but there was no EB-5 language in it.

The authorization of the main part of the EB-5 program ended on June 30 of this year, when the Senate failed to renew it.