SHI Jianxiang, Wanted in China, Convicted of U.S. Visa Fraud

A fugitive Chinese businessman was sentenced Friday to one year in prison after he was convicted on two counts of visa fraud for hiding a Marshall Islands passport he held under another name. See Carolina Bolado, Wanted Chinese Businessman Gets One Year for Visa Fraud, Law360 (Oct. 14, 2022) (subscription only).

U.S. District Judge Darrin P. Gayles sentenced SHI Jianxiang Shi to 12 months on each of the two charges of visa fraud under 18 U.S.C. § 1546(a), to run concurrently.

The government had recommended a 20-month sentence based on Shi’s “long history of lying to United States consular affairs officers, his misuse of the United States visa process to evade criminal charges pending against him in China, and the various allegations of fraud made against him in the United States since his arrival here,” according to a sentencing memorandum.

In 2013 and 2014 visa applications, Shi had listed his Chinese and St. Kitts citizenships but did not disclose that he also naturalized in the Marshall Islands, where he uses the name NIU Long.

At China’s request, Interpol has issued a red notice for him based on charges of the crime of “illegal fundraising by fraudulent means.” Chinese authorities accuse him of orchestrating a $6.4 billion Ponzi scheme that involved putting investor money into film productions, according to a China Daily report. His company, Kuailu Investment Group Ltd., was originally a state-owned enterprise that he acquired with the backing of the Changning District Government of Shanghai. The company invested in the movie Ip Man 3, starring Mike Tyson. After Chinese regulators cast doubt on box office receipts in 2016, the company reportedly collapsed and Shi fled China. (In a separate matter, China’s biggest movie star, Fan Bingbing, agreed in 2018 to forfeit more than $120 million to avoid criminal tax-evasion charges linked to a film Mr. Shi was co-producing before he fled.)

But since fleeing China, Shi has spent the last few years in Hollywood, using the name Morgan Shi, investing in films and hobnobbing with celebrities like former president Donald Trump, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, boxer Mike Tyson, and actor Bruce Willis.

At trial, Shi’s attorneys unsuccessfully argued that the visa applications were prepared by travel agents or his staff, and there was no indication that the preparers intentionally omitted information from the applications. The forms were filled out in English, a language that Shi does not read or speak, his attorneys said. Actually, the online forms show the questions (but not the answers) in Chinese as well.

The case is U.S. v. Shi, case number 1:21-cr-20421, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

The case is U.S. v. Shi, case number 1:21-cr-20421, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

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