The EB-5 immigrant investor program has provided considerable benefits to legitimate investors, immigrants and the communities where those investments take place. When, for example, an EB-5 investor uses the program to create affordable housing, everyone wins. Unfortunately, not all of the entities that have sought to participate in the program conduct themselves in an aboveboard manner. In one recent case, the US Securities and Exchange Commission went to court seeking a restraining order to freeze the assets of a Broward County limited-liability company that, the agency claimed, was actually a scam. Late last year, the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida issued that order, according to a SEC press release.
The person and business that was in the SEC’s cross-hairs was Lin Zhong and her Oakland Park-based company, EB5 Asset Manager, LLC. According to the original lawsuit document, which the SEC filed in federal court last November, Zhong used her company as part of an elaborate fraud designed to abuse the EB-5 program. Zhong allegedly told potential investors many falsehoods in order to secure their investment. Zhong communicated to investors that the money they put in would go for such things as a mixed-use commercial project along US Highway 1 in Port St. Lucie.