Comment: The Sheriff Shows Up
At long last, the Sheriff finally showed up in EB5. Yesterday, SEC charged 2 companies with unlawfully brokering $79 million for over 150 EB5 investors. An excellent analysis appears in an article by Matt Gordon below. Immigration Daily was the first to urge SEC to take forceful action in 2014 and 2015, and we are pleased to see that SEC has finally begun action. We note below a few points of interest to all involved in EB5:

  • Jurisdiction - the principal miscreants in the EB5 arena are in China, not the USA, and these folks have hitherto dismissed any US securities law concerns with the blithe rejoinder that they were far away from SEC's reach. Immigration Daily avers that in 2015 no one is too far from Uncle Sam. Yesterday's SEC action was against one company based in Florida and another in Hong Kong. This is clear warning to Chinese migration agents to register as US broker-dealers or cease to travel to the USA on EB5 business. We strongly suspect that this SEC action will accelerate the practice of all EB5 transactions being brokered by US broker dealers.
  • Investor Choice - the 2 companies targeted in SEC's enforcement action steered EB5 investors to a small handful of Regional Centers. Choosing a Regional Center is a critical decision for an investor - not just for the security of his/her money, but also for the security of the green cards thus obtained, both of which outcomes turn on the success or lack thereof of the underlying business opportunity in the United States. Overseas migration agents are unqualified to judge US-based business opportunities. Chinese migration agents deserve handsome compensation for educating Chinese investors about the US immigration process, and for constant assistance during this process - what Chinese migration agents are singularly incompetent at doing is choosing appropriate investments, since such choices can best be made by US-based financial intermediaries (duly registered by FINRA/SEC, etc). Several Regional Centers have based their business models on hoodwinking Chinese investors by having the choice of investment guided by parties in China instead of USA, these folks are now on notice that they are in the SEC's cross-hairs.
  • Legislation - SEC's action clearly demonstrates that US law enforcement is active, and provided SEC persists in remaining active, more than competent in policing bad actors in the EB5 space. Congressional action is not needed at this stage - huge and complicated bills may create more problems than they solve - Congress would be well advised to step back for a while and see how SEC's action (and forthcoming future actions) change market behavior - after all, Congress can always step in at a later date should it be necessary instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater through hasty legislation.

We applaud SEC in finally taking forceful action, and urge SEC to be mindful that much bigger targets (in the $1 billion plus range) remain as bad actors still to be punished. Until these bigger targets are stopped, integrity will not be a hallmark of the EB5 market. Well done, SEC, we encourage you onward.

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Focus: EB-5 Investors from Persian Gulf
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July 8 - 09, 2015, 11am - 2pm (Eastern). The Immigrant Learning Center will hold a webinar on "Immigrant Student Success: Models and Tools for K-12 and Adult Educators." Through interactive webinars and live group exercises with experts, you will learn about asset-based models and techniques for capitalizing on classroom diversity. You will also learn how to recognize and build on the strengths of your immigrant students for the benefit of the entire classroom through innovative lesson planning and classroom activities. For registration see here.

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