A federal judge has ordered that Anshoo Sethi and his company, A Chicago Convention Center LLC, return $147 million to Chinese investors.
If you’ve been following the story, you know that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sued Sethi and his company in February, alleging various misrepresentations were made to the investors in order to woo them to invest in a project to construct hotels and a convention center near O’Hare Airport. The investment scheme was marketed as a way for the investors to qualify for EB-5 green cards by making qualifying investments that create jobs for U.S. workers.
The SEC previously obtained a court order freezing the investors funds, which were being held in escrow at SunTrust Bank. Now, on April 19, Judge Amy J. St. Eve has issued a new order that the funds be returned by the Bank to the 246 or so investors within a month.
Sethi also collected $11 million in fees from the investors that was supposed to be returned to the investors if their visas were not granted. Instead he spent the money himself, the SEC says. The SEC’s case is ongoing in the U.S. Federal Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The SEC seeks further monetary relief and permanent injunctions against Sethi and his company.
According to the SEC, Sethi, age 29, had falsely claimed to investors that he had interest from major hotel chains and that he had obtained all of the necessary building permits for the project.
The SEC’s press release says that the agency will continue to monitor potential abuses in the EB-5 program.