Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

News: SEC: Lawyers Offered EB-5 Investments as Unregistered Brokers

Collapse
X
Collapse

  • News: SEC: Lawyers Offered EB-5 Investments as Unregistered Brokers

    SEC: Lawyers Offered EB-5 Investments as Unregistered Brokers

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    2015-274

    Washington D.C., Dec. 7, 2015 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced a series of enforcement actions against lawyers across the country charged with offering EB-5 investments while not registered to act as brokers.

    In one case, the lawyer and his firm are charged with defrauding foreign investors in the government’s EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, through which they seek a path to U.S. residency by investing in a specific project that creates or preserves at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers.

    “Individuals and entities performing certain services and receiving commissions must be registered to legally operate as securities brokers if they’re raising money for EB-5 projects,” said Andrew J. Ceresney, Director of the SEC Enforcement Division.  “The lawyers in these cases allegedly received commissions for selling, recommending, and facilitating EB-5 investments, and they are being held accountable for disregarding the relevant securities laws and regulations.”

    In a complaint filed in federal district court in Los Angeles, the SEC alleges that New York-based immigration attorney Hui Feng and the Law Offices of Feng & Associates not only acted as unregistered brokers by selling EB-5 investments to more than 100 investors, but they also defrauded clients by failing to disclose they received commissions on the investments in breach of their fiduciary and legal duties.  They also allegedly defrauded some entities offering the EB-5 investments.

    “We allege that Feng abused his role as an immigration attorney to illicitly operate as a broker and engage in a scheme to secretly receive commissions for selling EB-5 securities,” said Michele Wein Layne, Director of the SEC’s Los Angeles Regional Office.

    According to the SEC’s orders instituting settled administrative proceedings against several other lawyers and firms for broker registration violations:

    • Various EB-5 regional centers or their managers paid commissions to the attorney or law firm for each new investor they successfully sold limited partnership interests.
    • These payments were separate from legal fees received to provide legal services to the same clients.
    • The lawyers and firms engaged in activities necessary to effectuate the transactions, such as recommending one or more EB-5 investments, acting as a liaison between the regional center and the investor, or facilitating the transfer or documentation of investment funds to the regional center.
    • The lawyers thereby acted as unregistered brokers in violation of Section 15(a)(1) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

    Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, the following individuals and firms agreed to cease and desist from acting as unregistered brokers:

    • Austin, Texas-based Mehron P. Azarmehr and Azarmehr Law Group, who agreed to pay disgorgement of $30,000, prejudgment interest of $2,965, and a penalty of $25,000.
    • Miami-based Michael A. Bander and Bander Law Firm, who agreed to pay disgorgement of $228,750, prejudgment interest of $19,434, and a penalty of $25,000.
    • Miami-based attorney Roger A. Bernstein, who agreed to pay disgorgement of $132,500, and prejudgment interest of $8,243.
    • Hoboken, N.J.-based attorney Allen E. Kaye.
    • Los Angeles-based attorney Taraneh Khorrami, who agreed to pay disgorgement of $60,000, prejudgment interest of $7,843, and a penalty of $25,000.
    • Los Angeles-based Mike S. Manesh and Manesh & Mizrahi, who agreed to pay disgorgement of $85,000 and prejudgment interest of $11,159.
    • China-based resident Kefei Wang, who agreed to pay disgorgement of $40,000, prejudgment interest of $1,590, and a penalty of $25,000.


    “These settled enforcement actions reflect the cooperation by these individuals in entering into early discussions with the staff and conserving precious investigative resources,” said Stephen L. Cohen, Associate Director in the SEC Enforcement Division.

    The SEC’s continuing investigation has been conducted by Roger Paszamant, Thomas Manganello, Louis Gicale Jr., Sarah Hall, and Ashley Dolan, and supervised by Melissa A. Robertson.

    The SEC’s complaint against Feng and Feng & Associates alleges violations of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5.  They also are charged with violating Section 15(a) of the Exchange Act.  The complaint seeks disgorgement, prejudgment interest, and penalties along with permanent injunctions.

    The SEC’s investigation into Feng and his firm was conducted by Megan Bergstrom and supervised by Spencer Bendell.  The litigation will be led by Donald Searles. 

    The SEC appreciates the assistance of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

    ###
      Posting comments is disabled.

    Categories

    Collapse

    article_tags

    Collapse

    There are no tags yet.

    Latest Articles

    Collapse

    • News: USCIS Clarification of STEM OPT Extension Reporting Responsibilities and Training Obligations
      ImmigrationDaily

      If you are having difficulty viewing this document please click here.

      08-20-2018, 08:41 AM
    • News: CRS Report on The Trump Administration’s “Zero Tolerance” Immigration Enforcement Policy
      ImmigrationDaily
      ...
      08-16-2018, 04:49 PM
    • News: Justice Department Secures Denaturalization of Guardian Convicted of Sexual Abuse of a Minor
      ImmigrationDaily
      Justice Department Secures Denaturalization of Guardian Convicted of Sexual Abuse of a Minor Release Date: Aug. 15, 2018 RALEIGH, N.C. — On Aug. 8, Chief Judge James C. Dever III of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina entered an order that revoked the naturalized U.S. citizenship of a child sex offender; restrained and enjoined him from claiming any rights, privileges, or advantages of U.S. citizenship; and ordered him to immediately surrender and deliver his Certificate of Naturalization and any other indicia of U.S. citizenship to federal authorities. “The Justice Department is committed to preserving the integrity of our nation’s immigration system and the propriety of the government’s adjudication of immigration benefits,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “We will aggr...
      08-16-2018, 02:04 PM
    • News: USCIS publishes Immigration Services Available for Those Affected by California Wildfires
      ImmigrationDaily
      Immigration Services Available for Those Affected by California Wildfires USCIS offers immigration services that may help people affected by unforeseen circumstances , including the California wildfires. The following services may be available on a discretionary basis upon request: Changing a nonimmigrant status or extending a nonimmigrant stay for an individual currently in the United States. If you don’t apply for the extension or change before your authorized period of admission expires, we may excuse the delay if it was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond your control; Re-parole of individuals previously granted parole by USCIS; Expedited processing of advance parole requests; Expedited adjudication of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 s...
      08-15-2018, 02:51 PM
    • News: Re-Registration Period Now Open for Temporary Protected Status for Yemen
      ImmigrationDaily
      Re-Registration Period Now Open for Temporary Protected Status for Yemen Versión en español WASHINGTON — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that current beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) under Yemen’s designation who want to maintain their status through the extension date of March 3, 2020, must re-register between August 14, 2018, and October 15, 2018. Re-registration procedures, including how to renew employment authorization documents (EADs), have been published in the Federal Register and on uscis.gov/tps . All applicants must submit Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status. Applicants may also request an EAD by submitting Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, at the time they file Form I-821, or separately at a later date. Like all USCIS forms, both forms are free for download from the USCIS website at uscis.gov/tps . USCIS will issue new EADs with a March 3, 2020, expiration date to eligible Yemen TPS beneficiaries who timely re-register and apply for EADs. Given the timeframes involved with processing TPS re-registration applications, however, we recognize that not all re-registrants will receive new EADs before their current EADs expire on Sept. 3, 2018. Accordingly, we have automatically extended the validity of EADs for 180 days, through March 2, 2019. ...
      08-14-2018, 01:19 PM
    • News: USCIS Accrual of Unlawful Presence and F, J, and M Nonimmigrants
      ImmigrationDaily
      ...
      08-13-2018, 11:25 AM
    Working...
    X