美国华盛顿时间2013年2月8日,美国证监会发布公告，经过证监会与移民局通力合作，为保护目前和未来移民投资人的合法权益，根据证监会本周早先的控诉，和随后美国北伊利诺依州地区法院的紧急法院令，对芝加哥会议中心(ACCC)、芝加哥洲际信托基金区域中心(IRCTC） 和 Anshoo R.Sethi先生的(以上三方简称"项目方")资产进行冻 ,并叫停此投资移民项目的推广，与此同时移民局对此项目停止审批。
Anshoo R.Sethi 先生成立ACCC和IRCTC，借助虚假信息已经向超过250名主要来自中国的EB-5移民投资人融资1.45亿美元和收取1100万美元发行费，以在芝加哥O'Hare机场附近建设所谓＂世界第一个零碳排放白金LEED环保认证＂酒店会议中心。
Worldway Group’s Statement2013-02-09
Feb. 8th, 2013 (Washington time), SEC announced the charge and asset freeze against A Chicago Convention Center,LLC (“ACCC”), Anshoo R. Sethi (“Sethi”) and Intercontinental Trust Center of Chicago, LLC (“IRCTC”) (thereafter as “ACCC Parties”). SEC announcement and complaint can be found in SEC website, http://www.sec.gov/news/press/2013/2013-20.htm.
The charge shocked the EB-5 industry around the World. As one of leading investment immigration organization in China, Worldway Group soon received many enquiries from media, EB-5 investors and people in the EB-5 industry. In order to better respond the enquiries, Worldway Group issues following statement:
1. Worldway Group has ceased the cooperation with ACCC Parties since Oct. ,2011
In August, 2011, Worldway Group was given the title, by ACCC Parties, of the Premier Agent in China to promote the ACCC project in China; in September Worldway was invited to participate in ACCC project’s kick-off ceremony in China, and initiated the ceremony together with state governor of Illinois and Mr. Sethi. During the follow-up review of Worldway Group’s EB5 project team, however, Worldway found many questionable issues in the project, which were quite different from the five advantages that ACCC Parties claimed. As a result of ACCC Parties’ failure to provide convincing evidence to resolve the suspicions, in October, 2011 Worldway called a meeting with Mr. Sethi to terminate the cooperation agreement as the Premier Agent and cease to promote ACCC project in China.
2. The decision to cease cooperation with ACCC Parties was based on Worldway’s independent research and was responsible to Worldway’s clients involved
After ACCC project’s kick-off event in September, 2011, Worldway Group EB-5 project team continued the follow-up review process. It resulted in raising five questionable issues as follows:
a. ACCC Parties’ claimed equity investment was overstated. As ACCC Parties claimed to inject 3.2 acre land (it is actually 2.8 acre as we see right now) worth $177 million as the equity investment for the project. The price to a challenge to common sense and ACCC Parties couldn’t provide any formal appraisal report regarding land’s value when Worldway asked it for review.
b. The claimed land’s title hadn’t transferred to the EB-5 project company ACCC. Worldway Group found out that the land was owned by Mr. Sethi and another company of his father. At the beginning Mr. Sethi made a promise to Worldway Group to transfer title to ACCC as equity investment, but later he refused to act so with the excuse that his father didn’t agree to do so unless all EB-5 proceeds in escrow account.
c. ACCC Parties couldn’t provide any official document to prove the government financial support. ACCC Parties claimed that government would invest 50% of ACCC project budgeted cost, however, they couldn’t provide the official document from government till the end.
d. The ability and experience of Mr. Sethi and his father in hotel operation were questionable. Worldway found out, Mr. Sethi and his father had a hotel in the land and operated poorly. It was a huge different to their boasted ability to develop and operate the world’s First Zero Carbon Emission Platinum LEED certified conference center with 5 luxury hotels totaling 995 guest rooms.
e. Construction cost budget was overstated. Based on the cost budget and room number in offering documents, Worldway Group found out as the same to SEC’s charge: average building cost per guest room was about $740,000, counting the land value, it would be more than $900,000 per guest room. To Worldway’s knowledge, It was the upmost expensive hotel (but not the most luxury and at the best location) among all EB-5 hotel projects. Worldway believed that economic report was based on overstated data and there would be a potential problem achieving the job creation 1.73 times EB-5 legislation required as economic report indicated.
These five questionable issues raised by Worldway Group in Oct., 2011 are proved to be real problems according to SEC’s charge on Feb. 6, 2013 which has much more detailed allegation in above issues and others.
3. NO WORLDWAY’S CLIENT HAS BEEN IN ACCC PROJECT SINCE LATE 2011
After calling off the cooperation with ACCC Parties in Oct., 2011, Worldway’ subsidiary companies communicated the Worldway’s clients who invested in the ACCC project and recommended them to withdraw from the project. Worldway’s communication won the understanding and support of involved clients, and all of them withdrew their investment capital and admin fee out of ACCC project. There has been no client from Worldway in ACCC project since late 2011.
4. EB-5 program will have better future
SEC’s action, with USCIS’ substantial support, is to protect EB-5 investor’s best interest. It is good for the long-term development of EB-5 program, so it is welcomed by the China’s EB-5 industry and Worldway Group.
SEC’s charge demonstrates that EB-5 program is well regulated in US, EB-5 investors’ interests are protected by the US law; any fraud committed to investors will be caught and punished by law and enforcement.
This legal action is a wake-up call to prevent misconducts trying to take advantage of foreign EB-5 investors. Worldway Group believes there will be more good quality investment projects coming to EB-5 program.
5. Worldway Group will continue to follow up the progress of SEC’s legal action
On Feb. 8, 2013, Illinois District Court issued the emergent restraining order and asset freeze order to protect $145 million EB-5 investment capital; Since Mr. Sethi used or transferred vast majority of $11million refundable admin fee of investors, leaving less than $ 1 million in the account while there has been no I-526 approval granted from USCIS yet, In complaint filed with Illinois District Court SEC is requesting court order to demanding ACCC Parties to return all the transferred assets back to US domestic bank. USCIS has already put a halt to ACCC project’s adjudication. Among about 250 duped investors, most are Chinese investors. Worldway Group will continue to follow up the progress of the case.
About Worldway Group
Worldway Group, established in 1998, is a leading investment immigration organization in China. It has long been promoting investment immigration program to USA, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and European countries. For more information, please visit Worldway’s website http://www.worldwayhk.com/en/aboutworldway.html