- ‘I Am Alive’ app gains popularity in terror-ravaged Lebanon
- Gun giveaways gain popularity among Republican candidates
- S.C. hospital worker slapped with $525 federal fine for refilling $0.89 soda
- Teen from ‘Jihad Jane’ plot becomes youngest ever to serve time on U.S. terror charges
- Iranian woman forgives son’s killer at the gallows
- Nebraska principal sorry for ‘don’t tattle’ flier
- Illinois readies to spend $100M for Obama museum in Chicago
- John Edwards back in court — this time as a lawyer for Va. boy’s malpractice case
- Covered California reports more than 200K in overtime Obamacare sign-ups
- Thanks, Chuck: Hagel says U.S. sending Ukraine sleeping mats, helmets
Issues of corruption, fraud in investor-visa program date back two decades
Suspected abuses end up with 1 prosecution
An investor-visa program Congress wants to permanently extend was rife with fraud and corruption from its start more than two decades ago, with hundreds of millions of dollars improperly diverted as government officials lamented a persistent lack of oversight and an inability to investigate or prosecute the perpetrators.
Internal documents obtained by The Washington Times about the EB-5 investor visa program called for investigations into a handful of companies that appeared to be abusing the system — though only one of those companies seems to have been prosecuted. One memo said a plan to launch a full investigation was derailed by a lack of resources and by the perpetrators’ efforts to thwart it.
In a March 2002 Immigration and Naturalization Service memo, Senior Special Agent Elizabeth M. Goyer said the EB-5 program was dominated by a handful of private companies, most of them run by or closely associated with former high-ranking INS and State Department officials who were making money from being the middlemen on the visas.
“At least two of these companies were owned and operated by convicted felons who engaged such former officials to promote their fraudulent EB-5 schemes,” Ms. Goyer’s memo read, recommending that a task force be formed to conduct a full investigation and clean up the program.
More than a decade later, the EB-5 program is again under scrutiny after reports that high-ranking Democrats pressured U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, one of the agencies into which the INS split, to approve visas over the objections of career officers who deemed the applications to be unqualified.
The Homeland Security Department’s inspector general is investigating the program and the former director of USCIS, Alejandro Mayorkas, whom President Obama has since promoted to be deputy secretary of Homeland Security.
The EB-5 program was designed to spur investment by rewarding rich foreigners who commit to at least $1 million in job-creating U.S. businesses — $500,000 in economically depressed areas — with green cards, signifying lawful permanent residency.
Applications associated with the EB-5 program traditionally have a low denial rate, meaning the government accepts most people who make claims based on the investor program.
As of the 2002 memo, Ms. Goyer said just one EB-5 promoter, Interbank, had been the subject of a full criminal investigation. Company leaders eventually were convicted on charges of immigration fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.
The Homeland Security Department said none of the foreign investors was complicit in the fraud, however, and in fact some lost the funds they invested and were denied green cards.
There is no evidence that any of the other companies Ms. Goyer and others thought should be investigated ever faced that sort of scrutiny.
A 2004 memo from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, another of the agencies that INS broke into after the Homeland Security Department was created, acknowledged that the previous effort had been sidetracked.
“Two years ago, the INS proposed an investigative initiative targeting six of the largest EB-5 promoters,” the memo said. “Efforts to implement the plan were hampered by a lack of resources, by competing priorities, by the complexity and scope of these schemes, and by the continuous efforts by the EB-5 promoters and others to force the former INS (and then HOMELAND SECURITY DEPARTMENT) to abandon attempts to restore integrity to the program.”
ICE “has been attempting to preserve the viability of these investigations by trying to ensure that legislative and regulatory changes, civil litigation, and policy decisions do not effectively render immaterial the misrepresentations in the EB-5 petitions of the targeted promoters,” the memo said.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
David Sherfinski covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
- Supreme Court weighs appeal to concealed-carry gun laws
- Michael Bloomberg charts $50M challenge to NRA: 'Got to make them afraid'
- McAuliffe's PAC off to fast start, with $254,000 raised in two weeks
- Virginia Republican Bob Marshall stands by remarks that raise eyebrows
- Obama urged to enforce ban on importing military-style firearms
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By Tammy Bruce
Team Obama's bizarre behavior helps Gitmo terrorists foil justice
- BOLTON: A 'three-state solution' for Middle East peace
- Joe Biden's biggest gaffe: VP blowing his 2016 head start
- With pot and e-cigarettes, Big Tobacco is just waiting to inhale emerging markets
- Obama taunts GOP, takes nationally televised victory lap on Obamacare
- DeLAY: Hearings offer ripe target in Obamacare battle
- Attacks, rapes and forced conversions to Islam spike for Egypt's Christian women: report
- Atheists rush to stage Easter display: 'Jesus Christ is a myth'
- Rand and Ron Paul ride to the rescue for Bundy in Nevada standoff with feds
- Jews being told to register in Ukraine: John Kerry
- Russian fighter jet buzzes U.S. Navy destroyer in Black Sea
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.