OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Three people face federal charges in California for allegedly defrauding foreign investors in a jobs program overseen by U.S. immigration officials, federal prosecutors said on Aug. 20.
Thomas Henderson, Cooper Lee and Kexing Hu have been indicted on wire fraud and conspiracy charges in the scam involving the EB-5 visa program, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Henderson, 70, is the founder and owner of the San Francisco Regional Center.
Investigators said he and his co-defendants over a six year period raised more than $110 million from 200 investors overseas who believed they were funding EB-5-related businesses sponsored by the regional center. It wasn’t known if they have attorneys.
Henderson submitted false documents and diverted funds for other projects, prosecutors said. The scheme jeopardized the creation of more than 2,000 jobs in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to officials. “Besides posing a significant threat to national security and public safety, immigration benefit fraud and related schemes seriously rob immigrants who are deserving of these benefits while deterring investors who genuinely want to assist them,” said Tatum King, special agent in charge of Homeland Security in San Francisco.
EB-5 allows foreign nationals to obtain green cards for permanent residency by investing in qualifying U.S. businesses.
Henderson was arrested on Aug. 20 in Oakland and made his initial appearance in court.
He is scheduled to return on Oct. 1 for a status conference. Lee, 42, was arrested in Laguna Beach, California. Hu remains at large, prosecutors said.