A group of Chinese investors is suing Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and the brother of Hillary Clinton, saying they were defrauded of $17 million in a cash-for-green card “scam.”
The investors filed suit in Fairfax Co., Va. circuit court last week, Politico first reported.
The suit alleges that McAuliffe and Clinton’s youngest brother, Anthony Rodham, “exploited” the 32 investors by promising to “leverage…political connections” to ensure that their visa applications “will get to the top of the pile, and then be approved.”
The green cards were to be granted as part of the federal government’s EB-5 visa program. The program grants legal immigration status to foreign nationals who invest at least $500,000 in American companies. Companies must meet certain criteria regarding job creation in order for their investors to qualify for immigration benefits.
The 32 Chinese investors say they paid $560,000 apiece in 2012 and 2013 to invest in GreenTech, an electric car company controlled by McAuliffe and Rodham.
McAuliffe was once the largest investor in GreenTech. He left as chairman of the company in 2014 after being elected Virginia’s governor.
The investors say that not only were they misled about GreenTech’s prospects, their immigration status is now in jeopardy because of the company’s legal and financial problems.
“Defendants’ conspiracy has caused Plaintiffs to be left without an investment to serve as the basis of their immigration application, likely resulting in the loss of any immigration status they currently have,” the suit reads.
The case could pose political problems for McAuliffe, a former chairman of the DNC who is said to be weighing a 2020 presidential bid.
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The lawsuit lays out a laundry list of fraud allegations against McAuliffe and Rodham.
The suit claims that the pair “misrepresented” the number of jobs that GreenTech would generate while also falsely claiming that the car company had been selected as a Defense Department contractor. McAuliffe and Rodham also made false claims about GreenTech’s financial situation, including overstating the amount of collateral the company had for its outstanding loans, according to the complaint.
“They painted a false picture of the state of the company, including instructing employees to pretend to be working while investors toured the plant,” the suit alleges. McAuliffe and Rodham also “lied about the sales and expected sales of the company” during their investment pitches.
McAuliffe and Rodham also failed to disclose the existence of government investigations into GreenTech. The company came under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. A 2015 report released by the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general also showed that McAuliffe and Rodham pressured Alejandro Mayorkas, then the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, to approve visas for GreenTech.
A spokeswoman for McAuliffe told Politico that she is confident that the lawsuit will be dismissed.
“We strongly reject this baseless suit which has no merit whatsoever. The claims, which regurgitate old political attacks regarding a company that Governor McAuliffe left five years ago, were brought by a lawyer with conservative ties,” Crystal Carson told Politico.