China Watch Blog has learnt that more than 250 investors, including majority of them from China, have been cheated out of millions of dollars in a scheme by an American who led them to believe their investments could enhance their prospects of US citizenship, according to the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
The Shanghai Daily reported, citing the SEC as saying that the man, Anshoo R. Sethi, had created two companies and “fraudulently sold more than US$145 million in securities and collected US$11 million in administrative fees from investors.”
The commission has halted the scheme and filed charges. It has also frozen Sethi’s assets.
“Sethi orchestrated an elaborate scheme and exploited these investors’ dreams of earning legal US residence along with a positive return on their investment in a project that was not nearly the done deal that he portrayed,” said Stephen Cohen, associate director in the SEC’s enforcement division.
“The good news is that we intervened early and stopped him from getting very far, and the asset freeze preserves nearly all of the money invested.”
But the bad news is that Sethi and his companies have spent more than 90 percent of the administrative fees collected from investors despite a promise to return the money to investors if visa applications were rejected.
More than US$2.5 million of these funds were directed to Sethi’s personal bank account in Hong Kong, said the SEC.
It has obtained an emergency court order to protect the remaining US$145 million in investor assets.
It is not known whether Sethi, 29, who lives in Illinois, has been arrested.
Investigations are ongoing, the SEC said.
Sethi’s website, www.anshoosethi.net, is still in service. It says the family hotel development business is three decades old and he “offers nearly 15 years’ experience as a real estate developer and global financier with a focus on hotel development and management.”
The SEC alleges that Sethi misled people that their investments would help them gain them US citizenship through the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Pilot Program, which provides foreign investors with an avenue to US residency by investing in projects that will create or preserve jobs for US workers.
The SEC claimed that Sethi and his companies “made a number of misrepresentations about the project to dupe investors.”
By purchasing interests in Sethi’s companies, the investors were told that they would be financing construction of the “World’s First Zero Carbon Emission Platinum LEED certified” hotel and conference center near Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.
The SEC alleges that Sethi and his companies falsely told investors they had acquired all the necessary building permits and that several major hotel chains, such as Hyatt, Intercontinental Hotel Group and Starwood Hotels, had signed onto the project.
However, none of those hotel chains has a signed agreement to include a hotel in the Chicago project, according to the SEC’s investigation.If you think China Watch Blog's information is useful, click on cup of coffee on left hand side and make a small contribution via PayPal