SEC claims EB-5 developer deceived investors

In a lawsuit over the EB-5 immigrant investor program, the Securities and Exchange Commission claims industrial park developer Andy Shin Fong Chen and Renton-based Aero Space Port International Group (ASPI) deceived 29 people who put in $14.5 million. Chen denies the charges.

Two years ago The Seattle Times detailed problems with the federal EB-5 program, that lets foreign investors obtain a green card for U.S. residency in exchange for putting $500,000 into a job-creating project here. Although Congress created the program to channel money to economically disadvantaged areas, reporter Sanjay Bhatt’s stories showed most of the billions invested locally flowed to hotspots such as downtown Seattle.

One project that was working as intended, the series reported, was the ASPI project in high-unemployment Grant Count — millions of dollars from Chinese investors built a Moses Lake industrial park where a new, high-tech plant with more than 150 employees makes carbon fiber for BMW’s electric cars.

Or maybe not.

A lawsuit filed last week by the Securities and Exchange Commission accuses industrial park developer Andy Shin Fong Chen and his Renton-based Aero Space Port International Group (ASPI) of deceiving 29 investors from whom he raised about $14.5 million.

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The suit comes against the backdrop of an ongoing national crackdown by the SEC against EB-5 program developers or their agents. Locally, that scrutiny in the past two years has yielded settlements in two civil lawsuits and guilty pleas in two cases with criminal charges.

The civil suit against Chen claims he spent “virtually all of the funds … to engage in personal stock trading, satisfy margin calls, pay ASPI’s operating expenses, make lease payments on a luxury automobile, fund other businesses he controlled, and support other EB-5 Program Commercial Enterprises.”

He’s also accused of misleading…

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