U.S. and China Collaborate Against Chinese EB-5 Abuser

By David North on May 21, 2015

Usually when one reads about abuse of the EB-5 (immigrant investor) program the victims are rich aliens and the abusers are U.S.-resident middlemen.

The program grants a family-sized set of green cards to aliens making a $500,000 investment in a project that is approved, but not guaranteed, by DHS. The investment is supposed to create 10 jobs for non-family members.

This case is different as the abuser and his ex-wife are both accused of violating the EB-5 law and, in his case, of embezzling millions from a grain warehouse he managed in China. The case is also unusual as it includes formal cooperation between Chinese and American authorities.

The case is not unusual in that it shows that the EB-5 program, as we have noted many times, is vulnerable to fraud of various kinds.

The Accused. Qiao Jianjun was the manager of an apparently large grain warehouse in China; his wife at the time was Shilan Zhao. They applied for EB-5 visas and secured them, but there were several problems that the government ultimately noticed. They told authorities that they were still married, which they were not, and they told the government that she had secured the money from a legitimate source, when the funds were the product of his embezzling. (In the EB-5 program the money has to be clean, and the applicant must document that this is the case.)

Both have been indicted on several counts, according to the Seattle Times. She was jailed briefly then let out on bail. He is, at last report, at large. They are accused of money laundering and lying to the Department of Homeland Security about both their marriage and the source of their funds. The government has moved to seize two residential properties of hers in Washington State.

Both secured conditional residence cards because of the EB-5 investment, but it is not clear from reading court documents whether they were able to adjust to green card status, as investors can if all goes well after two years.

The Accusers. The case started in the federal courts in California and has since been moved to the federal court in the Western District of Washington; ICE and the Internal Revenue Service worked on it along with the local U.S. Attorneys. Also participating, in some undisclosed way, according to the U.S. attorney press release is the Supreme People's Procuratorate and the Ministry of Public Security of the Chinese government.

For users of the PACER, the federal courts' electronic data system, the case number is 2:15-mj-00101-BAT.