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SEC investigating company co-founded by Terry McAuliffe

- The Washington Times - Friday, August 2, 2013

The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the green car company founded by Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe over concerns that it allegedly guaranteed returns for its investors.

The SEC has subpoenaed the bank records of GreenTech's funding arm, the McLean-based financing company Gulf Coast Funds Management, LLC.

Documents attached to a July 31 letter from Sen. Charles E. Grassley also raise more questions on the extent of the interaction between officials at the two companies and Alejandro Mayorkas, the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

DHS is investigating whether Mr. Mayorkas assisted in approving an investor visa application submitted by Gulf Coast, even after the application was denied and an appeal was rejected.

Mr. Mayorkas, President Obama's pick to be the next No. 2 at DHS, testified last week that the extent of his interaction with Mr. McAuliffe was one meeting in which he heard his complaints about investor visas being held up.

Mr. Grassley said it went further than that.

"Contrary to the impression left by your answer, documents indicate that both before and after that meeting, you actually engaged in nearly a dozen contacts with Gulf Coast Funds Management between 2010 and 2013, including direct communications with Gulf Coast's attorneys," the Iowa Republican wrote to Mr. Mayorkas. "That one meeting with Mr. McAuliffe was clearly not the extent of your interaction on that matter."

GreenTech Automotive issued a statement Friday evening confirming it received a document subpoena from the SEC on July 12.

The company "is cooperating fully with the SEC's requests for information and believes it is in full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations."

A Gulf Cost official did not respond to a request for comment.

A spokesman for the McAuliffe campaign noted that Mr. McAuliffe left GreenTech in 2012 and that he has no knowledge of any investigation.

News of the SEC investigation was first reported Friday by The Washington Post.

The documents include forwarded e-mails from Mr. McAuliffe to Douglas Smith, an official in DHS's office of the Private Sector, that were forwarded to Mr. Mayorkas and an e-mail from Mr. Mayorkas himself saying that face-to-face meetings for particular cases are not appropriate."As the Director of this Agency, I do not adjudicate cases and am not the proper audience for a telephone call or a meeting about a particular case," he wrote to Gulf Coast's general counsel earlier this year. "I will forward your e-mail to the appropriate individual in the Agency."

USCIS handles cases involved in the EB-5 program, where foreign investors put up between $500,000 and $1 million for American companies in exchange for legal status.

Government attorneys wrote that such a meeting would violate the Administrative Procedures Act.

"I think it also raises an impartiality issue if we entertain pre-decisional meetings of this sort with particular applicants and petitioners," USCIS's Ethics Officer wrote. "It is not a concern to have meetings with particular industries, trade groups, bar associations, etc., on systemic issues that are not case specific, so long as we are willing to meet with all."

Gulf Coast is run by Anthony Rodham, the brother of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and is the finance arm of GreenTech Automotive Inc. Mr. McAuliffe founded GreenTech in 2009 and quietly stepped down as chairman in December — a fact only revealed in April in response to an inquiry from a Politico reporter.

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