SEC Pops Greedy EB-5 Lawyers

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Planned Metropolis Towers DTLA

EB-5 is quite popular here in the Los Angeles area.  Most of the construction downtown Los Angeles is from Chinese EB-5 money.  It definitely attracts multiple participants because of the money involved.  Although there is big money to be made in EB-5, it is highly regulated and difficult to successfully do.

EB-5 is a way for an immigrant (popular with wealthy Chinese) to get a greencard by bringing in money and following strict guidelines. If all guidelines are met, they get a greencard in a few years. This is where it gets tricky.  The general EB-5 guidelines are they need to bring $500K-$1M into the US and generate a minimum of 10 new jobs for 2 years for a new commercial enterprise. What does this mean?   Multiple professionals are needed to align these moons.

To do these deals, a lawyer is needed and somebody with good deal flow.  Why is the deal flow so important?  It’s important because of sustaining 10 jobs for 2 years. That means the project being done as a deal must not fail or eliminate jobs.  If the project fails, then no greencard.  Also, if done incorrectly, you can be in violation of securities laws.

Recently, the SEC charged EB-5 lawyers for being unlicensed securities brokers and in violation of the 1933, 1934, and Exchange Act. Not only did the lawyers charge their normal fees to the client, but they got commissions for the deals without disclosing this to their client.

These EB-5 lawyers that violated the securities laws are another example of why it’s so important to have transparency, full disclosure, and regulators watching after the general public.


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